In 20 states and the District of Columbia, the New Year meant higher wages for the lowest-paid workers. For states like Arkansas, Hawaii, Maryland, Nebraska, South Dakota, and West Virginia, the hike means that minimum-wage employees will make more than the federally mandated minimum of $7.25 an hour for the first time ever.
(Photo Credit: The All-Nite Images/Flickr)
“President Obama first called on Congress to raise the national minimum wage nearly two years ago,” writes Jason Surbey at the Department of Labor’s blog. “While Congress hasn’t acted, there is plenty of good news: coast-to-coast grassroots progress has resulted in 17 states, plus the District of Columbia and several other localities, raising their minimum wages either through referendum or legislation since then.”
These are the states that raised the minimum wage on January 1:
Arizona: Minimum was $7.90/hour, increased to $8.05/hour
Arkansas: Minimum was $6.75/hour (although the state was required to pay the federal minimum of $7.25/hour), increased to $7.50
Colorado: Minimum was $8/hour, increased to $8.23/hour. Tipped employees will see an increase from $4.98/hour to $5.21/hour.
Connecticut: Minimum was $8.70/hour, increased to $9.15/hour
Florida: Minimum was $7.93/hour, increased to $8.05/hour
Hawaii: Minimum was $7.25/hour, increased to $7.75/hour
Maryland: Minimum was $7.25/hour, increased to $8/hour
Massachusetts: Minimum was $8/hour, increased to $9/hour
Missouri: Minimum was $7.50/hour, increased to $7.65/hour
Montana: Minimum was $7.90/hour, increased to $8.05/hour
Nebraska: Minimum was $7.25/hour, increased to $8/hour
New Jersey: Minimum was $8.25/hour, increased to $8.38/hour
New York: Minimum was $8/hour, increased to $8.75/hour
Ohio: Minimum was $7.95/hour, increased to $8.10/hour. Tipped employees who make at least $30 a month in tips will be paid at least $4.05/hour.
Oregon: Minimum was $9.10/hour, increased to $9.25/hour
Rhode Island: Minimum was $8/hour, increased to $9/hour
South Dakota: Minimum was $7.25/hour, increased to $8.50/hour
Vermont: Minimum was $8.73/hour, increased to $9.15/hour
Washington: Minimum was $9.32/hour, increased to $9.47/hour
West Virginia: Minimum was $7.25/hour, increased to $8/hour
Washington, D.C.: Minimum was $9.50/hour, increased to $10.50/hour
Alaska will increase its minimum wage from $7.75 per hour to $8.75 per hour in February.
The hike comes as a relief to most low-paid workers, many of whom are struggling to raise families on wages that aren’t sufficient to pay for the basic necessities of life, including rent, food, and healthcare.
Still, not everyone is bullish on the increase. In a recent working paper for The National Bureau of Economic Research, Jeffrey Clemens and Michael Wither of the University of California, San Diego write:
“Over the late 2000s, the average effective minimum wage rose by 30 percent across the United States. We estimate that these minimum wage increases reduced the national employment-to-population ratio by 0.7 percentage point.”
Early last year, the Congressional Budget Office released a report that supported a similar conclusion. Although the authors concluded that increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would lift 900,000 families out of poverty, they also projected that it would reduce total employment by 500,000 workers.
Tell Us What You Think