Following national trends, Nebraskans vote to increase the state’s minimum wage
By Will Bauer, Reporter/Producer Nebraska Public Media
Nov. 8, 2022, 9:37 p.m. ·
Nebraskans who make minimum wage will be paid $15 per hour in 2026, as voters approved a hike Tuesday night.
Initiative 433, which raises the state’s minimum wage by $1.50 per year for the next four years, passed with more than nearly 60% of the votes, according to unofficial results from the Nebraska Secretary of State’s Office.
After 2026, the state’s wage will be tied to the Consumer Price Index to adjust for inflation. In a high inflation year like 2022, Nebraska’s wage would have grown by 8%.
Kate Wolfe is campaign manager for the group that collected signatures to get the initiative on the ballot. At an election night gathering in downtown Lincoln on Tuesday, Wolfe said she couldn’t be more excited for what the initiative’s passage is going to mean for so many people across the state.
“As a lifelong Nebraskan, I know one thing is true about Nebraskans is that we respect and reward hard work,” Wolfe said. “And these are hard-working people that need just a little bit of help.”
Starting in October of 2026, the state Department of Labor will be responsible for calculating adjustments to the minimum wage rate.
Nebraska adds its name to a growing list of states that have turned to ballot initiatives to increase their minimum wage. Since 1996, 22 initiatives and one referral passed in various states across the country to hike the minimum wage, according to Ballotpedia.
Opponents argued that raising the minimum wage could force business owners to cut jobs. They said it could also drive up the price of goods and services because owners will need to make more money since they are paying their workers more.
Bud Synhorst is the president of the Lincoln Independent Business Association. Synhorst said he’s not surprised that the initiative passed, but he still thinks the outcome will be detrimental.
“I think it's bad for the economy,” Synhorst said. “It's bad for local business, and it's going to cost small, local businesses across the state.”
He said he hopes the legislature and Nebraska Department of Labor can work together to ensure small businesses won’t be harmed by the new amendment.
Aaron Bonderson contributed reporting to this story.