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Politics & Government

Delaware’s minimum wage will increase to $15 by 2025

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Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
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Gov. John Carney signs Senate Bill 15 in Wilmington

Gov. John Carney signed a bill mandating a minimum wage increase Monday. It gradually raises Delaware’s $9.25-an-hour minimum wage over the next few years, stopping at $15 by Jan. 1, 2025.

“When you think about our work as public officials, there's nothing really more important than giving everybody that opportunity—to go to work everyday, to support themselves and their families, to make a better life for their children,” Carney said, before signing the bill in Wilmington Monday. 

Delaware joins several other states—including Maryland and New Jersey—with a $15 minimum wage planned in the next few years. New York City and D.C. already have minimum wages of at least $15 in place. 

Tracy Thuo is a cleaner in Wilmington and a member of 32BJ, a local chapter of the Service Employees International Union— which has pushed the “fight for 15” in Delaware for years. She currently makes $12 an hour. 

“The big fight is going to make a big difference in my life,” Thuo said after Carney signed the measure into law. “We’re just happy.”

Some Republican state lawmakers opposed the wage increase over concerns for small businesses.

State Sen. Jack Walsh (D-Ogletown), one of the legislation’s prime sponsors, says it’s not about being pro-business or anti-business.

“It’s a simple question of whether you believe in lifting people out of poverty or not,” he said at Monday’s bill signing. “The pandemic is highlighting the gross imbalance between the productivity of our workers and the wages they are paid. It would be economically immoral if we didn’t not pass a $15 minimum wage increase.” 

The wage increase is expected to cost the state government close to $5 million by the end of Fiscal Year 2024 as a result of increased payroll costs for some employees. It’s also expected to affect some substitute teachers in public and charter schools, but those costs are typically borne by local school funds. 

This year the state legislature also passed bills repealing the youth and training wage, which allows employers to pay workers under 18 or those less than three months on the job 50 cents less than the minimum wage, and banning employers from paying individuals with disabilities less than the minimum wage by July 1, 2023. Gov. Carney has yet to sign either bill. 

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