The Minimum Wage in West Virginia: What You Need to Know

As of January 1st, 2021, West Virginia’s minimum wage stands at $8.75 per hour, which is a dollar higher than the federal minimum wage. It’s important to note that West Virginia’s minimum wage is well below the living wage of $15 per hour that some advocacy groups advocate for, and that many consider to be a fair wage.

The minimum wage has become a contentious issue in recent years, with many arguing that it needs to be raised to keep pace with the increasing cost of living. Proponents of increasing the minimum wage argue that it would boost the economy by providing more money for consumers to spend on goods and services. On the other hand, opponents argue that increasing the minimum wage would lead to job losses, as employers may not be able to afford to pay their workers more.

West Virginia’s minimum wage has not seen an increase since 2016, when it was raised from $8.00 per hour to its current level of $8.75 per hour. While this increase was welcomed by many workers in the state, it falls short of what is considered a living wage, especially for those living in more expensive areas like Charleston or Morgantown.

Despite the low minimum wage, many workers in West Virginia are exempt from the state’s minimum wage requirements. For example, tipped workers, such as servers and bartenders, are only required to be paid a minimum wage of $2.62 per hour by their employer, with the assumption that they will earn enough in tips to make up the difference. However, if their total earnings (wages plus tips) do not equal the state minimum wage of $8.75 per hour, the employer must make up the difference.

Additionally, employees who are under 20 years old and have worked for their employer for less than 90 days are not subject to the state minimum wage requirements. This exemption is designed to encourage employers to hire young workers who may be inexperienced or lack relevant skills.

It’s worth noting that not all workers in West Virginia are subject to the state’s minimum wage. For example, federal employees and workers who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement may be exempt from the state’s minimum wage requirements.

There have been several efforts to increase the minimum wage in West Virginia in recent years. In 2020, a bill was introduced that would have increased the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026. However, the bill did not pass the state legislature.

Overall, the minimum wage in West Virginia falls short of what many workers consider to be a living wage. While there have been efforts to raise the minimum wage in recent years, it remains to be seen whether any changes will be implemented in the near future. In the meantime, workers in the state may need to rely on other forms of support, such as government assistance programs, to make ends meet.

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