By Anne Galloway, VTDigger.org
The minimum wage in Vermont went up by 42 cents from $8.73 per hour to $9.15 per hour on Jan. 1.
The rate is set to increase again in 2016 to $9.60 an hour, to $10 an hour in 2017 and to $10.50 an hour in 2018. In subsequent years, the minimum wage will go up by the rate of inflation, based on the consumer price index.
A full time minimum wage worker now makes $18,150 a year. The minimum wage rate increase boosts annual wages by $900 in 2015. The phased-in rate increases over the next three years amount to a $3,100 annual raise.
Tipped restaurant workers will also see a 35 cent raise, bringing their hourly wage up to $4.58 per hour.
About 18,000 Vermonters earn minimum wage, and the higher 2015 rate will generate an estimated $4.3 million in consumer spending, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Vermont is one of 20 states that raised the minimum wage in 2015.
The federal minimum wage rate has not kept pace with inflation. The current level nationally is $7.25 per hour. The rate for tipped wage earners is $2.13 an hour.