Business owners react to Nebraska’s 2024 minimum wage increase
By Brian Beach , Reporter Nebraska Public Media
Jan. 2, 2024, 6 a.m. ·
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On Monday, Nebraska’s minimum wage increased to $12 an hour, making it the 18th highest state minimum wage in the country and one of 25 states increasing its minimum wage this year.
In 2022, Nebraska voters passed an initiative raising the minimum wage from $9 an hour up to $15 an hour by 2026, increasing by $1.50 each year.
After that, the wage will be adjusted in accordance with cost of living increases.
Dave Titterington has owned the Wild Bird Habitat Store, with locations in Lincoln and Omaha, for more than 30 years.
Titterington said he already pays 80% of his employees at least $15 an hour and the cost of materials for inventory has been a much bigger factor in price increases than employee wages.
“Shipping is just out of control,” he said. “That's where we have issues, but not at all with paying employees a decent wage.”
Titterington said he expects higher wages to correspond to more spending money for consumers.
“Those employees that we pay those wages to, they're going out, they're buying gas, they're going to the grocery store, they're paying for housing, and they've got money that they can go shopping,” he said.
In Hastings, small business owner Mikaela Krueger said higher wages could have an even bigger positive benefit, since the cost of living is lower than in Lincoln and Omaha.
Krueger is the owner and founder of Optika Curated Eyewear, where she says she has paid her employees well above the minimum wage for several years.
“I think that being an empowered population with a living wage is going to be better for our economy than the short sighted perspective of inflation,” Krueger said.