Amid High Cost of Living, Flagstaff Minimum Wage Increases

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the minimum wage and whether or not it should be higher. Some states have already taken steps to increase their state mandated minimum wages. Others have been slow to follow. The Flagstaff minimum wage is an interesting situation for many reasons. And the debate isn’t over yet.

When adjusted for the cost of living, it turns out that wages in Flagstaff, Arizona were the lowest in the country. That all changed in 2016.  What was once $8.05 an hour, Flagstaff’s current minimum wage sits at $11. A change of $2.95 per hour that occurred over a relatively short period of time.

What Happened?

In 2016, Flagstaff passed proposition 414; a measure which seeks to increase wages to $15 per hour by 2020. That same year, the state of Arizona passed a measure to increase state-wide wages to $12 an hour by 2020 as well.

The effects have been mixed.

Supporters say that the Flagstaff minimum wage was too low, given the city’s cost of living. They argue that the rate of poverty and the abundance of low-wage jobs justify the increase.

Detractors, including the local chamber of commerce, have a different take.

“We have seen businesses close. We have heard of businesses that have wanted to expand that are not. And, in general, that uncertainty, that, ‘I don’t know if I can make this work.’ A lot of small businesses have told me, ‘We’ve lost all our balance now.'” – Julie Pastrick, CEO, The Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce

Still, some businesses remain wary, yet stable. One thing that seems clear is that prices will inevitably go up, increasing the city’s cost of living eventually.

“We approach business from a sustainable standpoint. We want our employees to do well and we want the community to do well. But we’re going to have to look at every piece of the business and figure out how we’re going to adjust…Prices will inevitably go up.” – Paul Moir, local restaurateur

Cost of Living in Flagstaff

Whatever the future holds for the Flagstaff minimum wage, many cities around the country are finding themselves in similar situations. Cities in particular are feeling pressure to increase local wages. However, Paul Moir of Flagstaff raises a question which is often found at the center of the minimum wage debate:

“The minimum wage is the minimum wage and it’s always going to be the minimum wage. So if everything adjusts proportionally, where’s the benefit? If groceries and rent and everything has gone up proportionally or even more than that wage increase, I don’t know where the benefit is.”

There is no clear consensus on the minimum wage debate, among citizens or business owners. What is clear is that wages are an important factor to consider when choosing where to live.  Cost of living is likewise an important consideration.

Are the wages in Flagstaff a step up or down from you? What if you factor in the cost of rent, and state and local taxes? Should you leave Colorado and head to Flagstaff? What if you’re considering fleeing Illinois? 

That’s where City vs City can help. Our app calculates the true cost of living in your city. Then, we compare those costs at the zip code level with another city of your choosing. As a result, City vs City shows you where you can get the most bang for your buck.

If you’re considering moving, Download the City vs City app today and see how your cost of living stacks up!