minimum wage in Kentucky

When many people first start out in the workforce, they are in a minimum wage position. It’s a common pay rate for entry-level jobs. Particularly in sectors like food service and retail. Since so many people spend time earning minimum wage.  Knowing what that wage is can be vital. It allows a person to better plan their career and manage their finances. As well as assess whether the work involved is worth the compensation. If you’re curious about the minimum wage in Kentucky. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is a Minimum Wage?

First, it’s critical to understand what a minimum wage is and how it factors into the broader equation. In a general sense, the minimum wage is a specific dollar amount that represents the lowest an employer can pay a covered nonexempt employee for an hour’s worth of work.

Overall, the vast majority of the workforce qualifies as nonexempt, but there are some exceptions. For example, young workers during their first 90 days of employment with a company may not earn a traditional minimum wage. Similarly, full-time students working for specific kinds of entities and student learners can potentially make less than minimum wage.

At times, disabled workers that have specific kinds of employment contracts may fall under different rules when it comes to pay rates. Finally, if an employee is in a position that typically involves earning tips, there can be different rules for them.

The last change to the federal minimum wage occurred in July 2009, setting the lowest amount a nonexempt employee could make at $7.25 per hour. For qualifying tipped workers, the minimum became $2.13 an hour. However, if the employee didn’t make enough in tips to reach the equivalent of $7.25 per hour, the employer is then required to make up the difference.

Baseline For The States

The federal minimum wage serves as a baseline for states. A state cannot make its minimum wage lower than the federal minimum, though they do have the option to make it higher.

For example, Georgia and Wyoming technically have state minimum wage laws that list $5.15 per hour as the lowest allowed pay rate. However, based on the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), they aren’t allowed to keep that as their minimum, instead having to fall in line with the minimum federal rate.

On the other side of the spectrum, there are many states with higher minimum wages. Washington has a minimum wage of $13.69 per hour, while California’s is $14 per hour.

In some cases, local legislation has pushed minimum wages up even more. Cities and municipalities in many states have the ability to enact their own minimum wage laws. While they can’t pay less than the federal minimum wage or their state’s, they can go higher. For example, Seattle, WA, has a minimum of $16.69 per hour.

There is interest among many federal lawmakers in increasing the minimum wage. One of the most commonly discussed shifts would see the minimum wage move up to $15 per hour. However, no legislation has passed that would make that happen at this time.

What Is the Minimum Wage in Kentucky?

The minimum wage in Kentucky currently aligns with the federal minimum wage, sitting at $7.25 per hour. Also, like the federal minimums, tipped workers may be paid as little as $2.13 per hour, suggesting their tips make up the difference.

Some state lawmakers have pushed for a higher minimum wage in Kentucky. However, no legislation has been passed at this time.

Do Any Kentucky Cities Have Higher Minimum Wages?

No, there aren’t any cities in Kentucky with higher minimum wages. While there had been attempts by some cities to raise their local minimum wage, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that they didn’t have the authority to do so.

Is the Kentucky Minimum Wage a Living Wage?

A living wage is a dollar amount that reflects how much a person would need to earn as an hourly rate to support a household. It’s based on the person working full-time, usually considered to be 40 hours per week, or 2080 hours a year. It also factors in specific kinds of basic costs, such as housing, food, transportation, and healthcare, but doesn’t factor in money for expenses that aren’t considered necessities, like entertainment or saving.

For Kentucky, the living wage for a single adult without children is listed at $13.48 per hour. For a family of four, with two adults and two children, if only one adult is working, that person would need to make $30.28 per hour, based on the living wage calculations. If both adults are working, each would need to earn $19.60.

Based on the cost of living in Kentucky, the current minimum wage makes affording many basic costs challenging for many. It could mean that an entry-level job wouldn’t be enough to sustain a household, causing them to have to make sacrifices to simply survive.

Do you think the minimum wage in Kentucky is high enough? If not, where do you think the minimum wage needs to be? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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