A 10 percent increase in the minimum wage was a pleasant surprise for many student workers returning to jobs on campus this fall.
“I think my wage went up,” said Noemi Palomares, a cashier in The Campus Store. “But I’m not sure. I wasn’t here all summer, and I haven’t gotten a paycheck yet.”
Until this summer, the state minimum wage was $6.55, but a federal law raised the federal minimum wage to $7.25, effective July 24. For Texas employers, higher wages means fewer funds available to hire workers.
“Most campus jobs are minimum wage, especially after the hike,” said Tim Johnston, exexecutive director of the Career Center. “But, inflation is pretty low, so for the most part, these are gains for people.”
Student workers are eager to reap those gains, even if the departments employing them are feeling the crunch.
“Demand at August Passport for on-campus jobs was very high,” Johnston said. “Every penny counts and having the opportunity to work up to 20 hours a week in a convenient location is great.”
The wage hike might make on-campus jobs more attractive, but for students like Palomares, who has worked in the Campus Store since last September, the money is not important.
“It’s a good place to work,” said Palomares, sophomore Biblical text major from Elsa. “I don’t have to drive anywhere. Oh, and I get a discount, so that’s good.”
Employers such as the Campus Store have worked hard to create incentives besides higher wages for good employees, an effective strategy now and previously when minimum wage sat far below $7. Students usually work between 10 and 20 hours a week, but employees who demonstrate responsibility get more hours – and more money as a result, said Scott Harsh, assistant Campus Store director.
“We have very little turnover,” Harsh said. “I hope it’s because people like working here. We try to treat them well.”