Johnson County Board of Supervisors to discuss recommended minimum wage increase to $10.63

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors will meet for a work session on Wednesday and discuss raising the county’s recommended minimum wage by 23 cents.


Johnson County Supervisors call for the meeting to start at the Johnson County Human Services building before a public hearing to replace the Unified Development Ordinance on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019.

Riley Davis, News Reporter

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors will discuss raising the county’s recommended minimum wage to $10.63 at their 9 a.m. Wednesday meeting this week. 

If passed, its decision would fall in line with the phased increases that were established by vote in 2015, as previously reported by The Daily Iowan. The minimum wage would not be enforced throughout the county, due to a 2017 state law which prevents counties from setting minimum wage above $7.25 an hour, but would recommend employers to consider the increase. 

An ordinance released by the board on Monday said the recommended increases were established because many working families and individuals in the county are unable to adequately sustain themselves. Johnson County has one of the highest costs of living in the state, the ordinance said, with many wages below that cost of living. 

“Payment of a higher minimum wage advances Johnson County’s interests by creating jobs that better help workers and their families avoid poverty and economic hardship, reducing residents’ reliance upon public and private aid, and better enabling residents to meet basic needs,” the ordinance stated. 

Additionally, the ordinance said, minimum wage increases aid customer purchasing power, increases workers’ standards of living, reduces poverty, and stimulates the economy while improving peace, safety, health, welfare, comfort, and convenience of the county residents. 

The state’s minimum wage has not changed since 2009 and Iowa is one of 21 states that follows the federal minimum wage. It applies to most employees in the state, with limited exceptions for tipped employees, some student workers, and other exempt occupations. 

Most small businesses that make less than $300,000 a year don’t have to pay minimum wage, and employers are allowed to pay less than the state’s minimum wage — a training wage  — for the first 90 days of employment. Tipped employees must be paid at least 60 percent of the applicable minimum wage.

According to a 2019 report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Iowa’s minimum wage workers would need to earn more than double the state’s current minimum wage — $15.44 an hour — and work 85 hours a week  in order to afford the statewide average price of a “modest” two-bedroom apartment. In Iowa City, which has one of the most expensive housing markets in the state, workers would have to make $17.35 an hour to afford rent, the report showed. 

Currently there are no plans to change the minimum wage’s statewide rate on the federal level.