LINCOLN – Raise the Wage Nebraska (RTWN) received notice today from the Nebraska Secretary of State that the citizen-led initiative petition to raise the minimum wage has qualified for the November ballot. The initiative will gradually and responsibly increase the current $9 per hour minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026 and will be adjusted annually thereafter to account for increases in the cost of living.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, increasing the minimum wage will benefit nearly 150,000 working Nebraskans – 75% of all workers who will benefit are over 20 years old, and nearly one-quarter are over 40. Moreover, 1 in 5 women workers in Nebraska will see their wages increase because of the initiative and 43% of Nebraska workers who will benefit have at least some college or an Associate’s degree. If the initiative passes, 25% of Black and 30% of Latino workers in Nebraska will see their wages increase.
“This is great news for Nebraska workers and families. 1 in 5 workers who will benefit is a parent supporting children and trying to make ends meet. The reality is that the cost of groceries, housing, and basics have gone up for years, and the minimum wage hasn’t kept up. I am grateful to every Nebraskan who signed to put this on the November ballot,” said Nancy Williams, President and CEO of No More Empty Pots and sponsor of the initiative petition.
The phased-in approach lets businesses adjust while ensuring nearly 150,000 low-income Nebraska residents can feed their families. The first increase in January 2023 is from $9.00 to $10.50 per hour. It then goes up a little each year until it reaches $15.00 per hour in 2026.
Rick Poore, owner of Shirts 101 in Lincoln, said, “Raising the minimum wage will help Nebraska’s workers make ends meet and boost our economy. Fair wages are a commitment we’ve made to people, and our people are committed to our business in turn. Our employees are more productive, make fewer costly mistakes, and provide excellent production work and customer service that keeps customers coming back and attracts new customers. And let’s not forget that workers at one business are also customers at many other businesses.”
Darci Lynes of Lincoln said, “I am a mom of three kids with a fourth on the way. I make less than $15 and I have to figure out what’s more important, getting my kids clothes and shoes or paying the bills. I’m actually behind on bills because I had to buy shoes that fit my kids. Raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2026 would help me and my family.”
“The overwhelming support that the initiative petition received across the state during signature collection will carry on to Election Day. Nebraskans believe that we are stronger together, including ensuring that our friends, family members, and neighbors who are struggling to make ends meet receive a much-needed raise,” stated Kate Wolfe, Campaign Manager for Raise the Wage Nebraska.