Sen. George Young, D-Oklahoma City, filed Senate Bill 161 on Thursday to increase Oklahoman’s minimum wage requirement.
Senate Bill 161 would require employers to pay their employees a minimum wage of $10.50 per hour, or match the federal minimum wage rate, whichever is greater. Oklahoma’s current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, which is equal to the federal minimum wage.
“It’s been more than a decade since hard-working Oklahomans have seen an increase to the minimum wage schedule,” Young said. “During this time, the spending power of a minimum wage paycheck has drastically decreased.”
The last change to Oklahoma’s minimum wage schedule was in 2008 when the rate increased from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour.
Twenty-nine states have a minimum wage requirement higher than the federal minimum, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. While Texas and Kansas match Oklahoma’s $7.25 an hour minimum wage, Missouri’s minimum wage rate is $9.45 per hour and Arkansas’ minimum wage rate is $10 per hour. Both states have plans to further increase their rates in the coming years.
“Many of our essential workers during this pandemic have been paid a minimum wage. Raising the rate at this point in time would be a well-deserved ‘thank you’ for their dedication and service during an extremely challenging year,” Young said. “If we truly want to be a ‘Top 10 State,’ we must raise our minimum wage rate to be competitive with other states on a national level.”