CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Officials in Iowa’s second most populous county voted Monday to raise its minimum wage a dollar an hour for three years, making it the second county to increase the wage above the state standard.
Linn County supervisors voted 4-1 to raise the $7.25 minimum wage by a dollar each Jan. 1 until 2019, when it will reach $10.25. The move follows action by neighboring Johnson County to raise its wage by three increments of 95 cents to $10.10 by 2017.
Linn County’s action could be especially significant given its status as Iowa’s second most-populous county, with about 216,000 residents. Des Moines-based Polk County, with Iowa’s largest population of 450,000, also is considering a minimum-wage increase.
Linn County Supervisor John Harris cast the lone vote against the increase, saying he did so because of opposition by small-business owners in rural areas.
Iowa lawmakers have repeatedly sought a statewide minimum-wage increase above the federal-set standard but have failed because of opposition by Republicans, who argue it would hurt small businesses. Linn County Supervisor Ben Rogers said that if the Legislature doesn’t take action in the next session, he expects more counties to approve increases.
“I can guarantee there’s going to be a lot more counties following our lead,” Rogers told KCRG-TV.
Under Linn County’s measure, the county’s cities will be able to opt out and keep the current $7.25 rate.
Although the move to increase the minimum wage has occurred in larger, more urban counties, supervisors in southeast Iowa’s Wapello County also have taken steps to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. A final vote on the increase is scheduled for Tuesday.