Steve Ahlquist’s February 13 article summarizes recent testimony in support of increasing Rhode Island’s minimum wage. When we fail to increase the minimum wage, inflation eats away at the very modest gains that have been achieved, as seen in the accompanying figure. Even with modest increases in the minimum wage over the previous four years, the Rhode Island minimum wage is just $0.93/hour higher today than it was seventeen years ago, after adjusting for inflation.
The 2016 Rhode Island Standard of Need (RISN) shows that in order to meet the very basic needs of a single adult, the minimum wage would need to be $12.38/hour. While a $10.50 minimum wage doesn’t close the gap, it is clearly a significant step from the current minimum wage, which falls nearly $6,000 short of the RISN amount.