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New minimum wage increase in Montana still not sufficient to keep up with rising living costs

Missoula, Montana – Workers in Montana on minimum wage are set to see a boost in their earnings starting this month. The minimum wage is increasing by $0.35, shifting from the current rate of $9.95 to $10.30. This change marks a significant move for those earning the least in the state, offering them a bit more financial relief.

This wage increase comes as a result of policies by the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, which tie the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index. This index tracks the cost of living, adjusting wages in line with inflation and the rising cost of goods and services. As living expenses climb, so too does the need for higher wages to ensure people can afford basic necessities.

In Montana’s cities, including Missoula, large fast-food chains are offering wages significantly higher than the new minimum, ranging from $15 to $17 an hour. This is a substantial difference compared to what the state mandates and reflects the competitive nature of the job market in these sectors.

However, the situation is different for smaller and local businesses. While they are offering more than the state’s minimum wage to attract and retain employees, their pay rates are still not on par with the bigger corporations. This discrepancy has raised concerns about attracting enough job seekers and retaining staff. Many argue that even with the new increase, the wages are not sufficient to meet the rising living costs, hinting at a deeper issue within the state’s economy and job market.

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