Financial experts say put together a plan with minimum wage raise

Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 6:11 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - With the new year comes new changes to some Virginians’ paychecks!

As of Jan. 1, the minimum wage across the Commonwealth rose from $9.50 per hour to $11. It’s part of a tiered approach to try and raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026.

While the legislation signed in 2021 by Governor Ralph Northam will bring the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2023, the General Assembly will have to vote and approve the increases beyond that in order to get to $15 an hour.

However, with the 2022 raise, financial experts say now is the time to come up with a plan.

“You’re looking at about $60 extra a week or $240 a month, which might seem minimal, but if you can develop a plan around what to do with that $240 extra each month, it can really benefit someone at the end of the day,” said Cherry Dale, the Vice President of Financial Education at Virginia Credit Union.

That plan may include paying down your debt or even putting money aside into a savings account.

However, with the recent raise, Dale said it is also important to see if it is going to impact any assistance programs you may be part of.

“The maximum is around $2,000 for assets with SNAP benefits,” Dale said. “So is this going to impact them any in getting that assistance? If it is, they really need to plan around that - what am I going to do, how am I going to get groceries if this extra benefit is not there.”

For years people have advocated at the state capital for raising the minimum wage.

Before the 2021 increase to $9.50 an hour, Virginia had not increased the minimum wage since 2009

Now with the hardships of the pandemic, Dale said families need to look at their overall career path as well.

“The market is just great right now, especially for these entry level positions,” she added. “Many employers are paying more than minimum just to attract good employees, maybe even paying a bonus.”

However, that is a struggle impacting certain industries.

The Virginia Restaurant Travel and Lodging Association President, Eric Terry, said they don’t expect the wage raise to boost staffing numbers at businesses. Ongoing concerns of dealing with the public amid the pandemic may be another factor.

“I think many of them are starting to look at their benefit plans, looking at whether it’s paid leave or offering health care benefits where maybe they didn’t do that before,” Terry said.

Terry went on to describe the current staffing situation as “critical” across these businesses.

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