How Many Minimum Wages Will Iowa Have to Deal With?

Date: August 16, 2016 Last Edit: August 17, 2016

As Polk County nears hike, cities must decide whether to opt out.

How Many Minimum Wages Will Iowa Have to Deal With?

Small business owners in Iowa could be facing not only a higher minimum wage in Polk County, but a variety of different minimum wages in cities within the county.

While Polk County appears close to raising the minimum wage to $10.75 by 2019, city governments within the county could opt out of that increase or choose a different minimum wage, the Des Moines Register reports.

“I think we’re going to see immensely more chaos at even a more micro-city government or municipality-level than we’re seeing at the county,” Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, told the newspaper.

Other complications include towns that straddle Polk and another county—so that a business in one part of town would have to pay a different minimum wage than a competitor in another part. Meanwhile, Johnson County is raising its minimum to $10.10 an hour by 2017, Linn County officials have recommended $8.25 an hour by then, and one group is still urging a $15 minimum wage statewide.

And a further uncertainty is what the next president and Congress decide to do about the federal minimum wage, which is the same as Iowa’s: $7.25.

According to NFIB/IA State Director Kristin Failor, “It’s incredibly difficult for small business owners to plan for the future when labor costs are inconsistent. Ultimately the fluctuations cause employers to hold off on hiring additional people and everyone suffers, especially those looking for work.”

All of this could make planning difficult for small business owners. In Johnson County, four cities opted out of the county minimum wage hike, the Des Moines Register reported, and one voted for a smaller increase than the county’s.

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