A new year brings new bucks to Hilmes' bank account. She and thousands of other Alaskans making minimum wage will get a boost in their next paycheck.
"Yeah, it's nice to get a raise every once in a while," Hilmes said.
In June, the government increased the federal minimum wage to $7.25, forcing Alaska to raise its minimum by ten cents to catch up. The state Legislature wanted to boost Alaska's even more, so it passed a bill that requires Alaska's minimum wage to always be at least 50 cents higher than the federal rate.
"The minimum wage is now tied to the federal minimum wage," said the Department of Labor's Joe Dunham. "The federal minimum wage is $7.25, Alaska's minimum wage will be 50 cents higher automatically."
Alaska's cost of living is one of the highest in the nation -- but its minimum wage is not. Washington's minimum wage is $8.55 an hour, while Oregon's is $8.40 and California's is $8.
Economists at the Department of Labor say it's too soon to predict the impact of this increase, but add that it was needed because wages have not kept up with inflation in Alaska.
Hilmes says she knows exactly how the increase will impact her.
"Well, with the hours I'm doing right now, and I'm almost graduated from high school, so it will be nice to get a little nudge up in my income for college and stuff," Hilmes said.
It's a sentiment shared by about 8,000 other Alaskans who are welcoming a bit of a boost for 2010.
Exceptions to the increase include minors working under 30 hours a week, babysitters in private homes and people working in agriculture.
Contact Jackie Bartz at firstname.lastname@example.org