Virginia Minimum Wage Law: Status Update March 2024

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has vetoed Virginia’s latest proposed minimum wage increase. The subject bill, which had passed the House of Delegates with a 51-49 party-line vote, aimed to raise the current minimum wage of $12 per hour to $13.50 by January 2025 and then to $15 by January 2026. The preceding wage law from 2020 incrementally raised the minimum wage from $9.50 to $12.00 per hour as of January 1, 2023.

Governor Youngkin’s veto of the bill will continue to stir debate across the state. Youngkin argues that the non-market increases in wages would raise costs on small businesses, without regard to economic differences in the varying regions across the state. Advocates for the wage increase argue that it would help working families afford basic necessities and keep up with inflation. Additional debate continues as to whether government mandated wage increases, as opposed to free-market increases, contribute to rises in inflation.

While additional wage increases between 2023 and 2026 required legislative action, Va. Code Section 40.1-28.10 still includes a unique wage adjustment scheme. Beginning October 1, 2026, and every year thereafter, the state must determine the adjusted state hourly minimum wage for the following January 1. The adjusted wage is calculated by adding (i) the current state hourly minimum wage rate to (ii) a percentage of that rate equivalent to the percentage increase in the United States Average Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers (CPI-U) published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or a successor index, over the most recent available calendar year. This adjustment ensures that the minimum wage keeps pace with inflation, and the adjustment amount cannot be negative.

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