Johnson County Minimum Wage Increase Costs for University of Iowa

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AMES, Iowa -- The University of Iowa is increasing pay to student housing and food workers as a way to compete with new higher wages in Johnson County.

The county passed a new minimum wage ordinance in 2015 enforcing employers to pay at least $8.20 an hour. By 2017, that will rise to $10.10.

Von Stange, Vice President of Student Life at Iowa, said it is necessary to pay higher wages to compete with private employers who will be raising wages.

"Students are telling us they can work more hours and get paid more by working off campus,” said Stange. "So starting June 1, we’re going to be increasing out minimum wage to out students to $9.50 an hour. Johnson Coimyu will be at $9.40.”

Regent Larry McKibben said he is hoping to see universities reduce prices, rather than raise them.

“I specifically disagree with increasing, matching Johnson County. I can tell you it's the only county in the 99 counties that’s doing that. I think that’s out of bounds,” said McKibben.

"The notion of Johnson county’s minimum wage considerations for increased minimum wage is not an issue that has been determined at the University of Iowa with respect to that matter,” said Rod Lehnertz, Vice President for Finance and Operations at the U of I. "Multiple considerations to be made and discussions to be hand, at the shared governance, Presidential cabinet levels for that."

The school says it is still calculating the full effect of the minimum wage hike on its finances.

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