COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohioans making the bare minimum could get a raise.

On Monday, a pair of Democratic senators announced they will introduce a bill to incrementally raise Ohio’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.

What You Need To Know

  • The current minimum wage in Ohio is $8.80 per hour

  • Senators Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) and Cecil Thomas (D-Avondale) are calling for the minimum wage to be $15 per hour

  • The bill, if passed, would increase it to $10 an hour in 2022 and then increase it by $1 each year until it gets to $15 in 2027

Some, however, say it will hurt the economy more than it will help it.

The current minimum wage in Ohio is $8.80 per hour.

"The minimum wage is too low. It doesn't cover the cost of living and it doesn't reflect the value of work that folks are actually doing," said Policy Matters Ohio researcher Michael Shields.

Shields said the minimum wage should be around $12 per hour if it kept up with inflation, but it has not. Compounded with current times and he said the situation is dire.

"One of the things that we've seen with the COVID-19 crisis, is a lot of the folks, the essential workers that we all depend on to get through the crisis, are some of the folks who are the lowest paid in the state," Shields said.

Now senators Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) and Cecil Thomas (D-Avondale) are calling for the minimum wage to be raised to $15. Their bill, if passed, would increase it to $10 in 2022 and then increase the amount by a dollar each year until 2027. After that, the minimum wage would go up with inflation, which is required by the Ohio Constitution.

"This is America and we should not find ourselves in situations where people who are working full-time jobs not being able to make ends meet and having to rely on the government," said Thomas.

The bill would also raise the wages of employees who receive tips like waiters and waitresses.

Now, employers may pay them as little as half the state's minimum wage, or $4.40 per hour, if the employees prove their tips get them to the full minimum wage.​

"While Ohio will increase the productivity, it also will stimulate the spending. When that happens, everybody wins," said Craig.

The Ohio chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the leading advocacy organization for small businesses, thinks the proposal is flawed.

"The last thing we need to do is significantly increase their most expensive item and that's labor costs. Timing is horrible, it will cost jobs. It's a one-size-fits-all approach and we already have a solution in our constitution to deal with the minimum wage," said Vice President and Executive Director Roger Geiger.

Washington, D.C. is currently the only place in the U.S. with a $15 per hour minimum wage.

Last week, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to raise minimum wage to that same $15-per-hour mark for federal workers.

Floridians passed a ballot initiative to incrementally raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 by September 2026.

In contrast, the Ohio General Assembly in 2016 prohibited local municipalities from imposing minimum wages higher than the statewide minimum wage.

Cincinnati Democratic Rep. Bridget Kelly has introduced companion legislation in the Ohio House. ​