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On New Year’s, 14 States Will #RaiseTheWage

Filed in Minimum Wage By on December 29, 2015

Map showing 14 states that will have a minimum wage raise on New Year's Day

Minimum wage workers deserve a raise. That’s why President Obama has urged Congress for nearly three years to raise the federal minimum wage − stuck at $7.25 per hour since 2009. While the costs for the basics like housing, food and transportation have all gone up, the national minimum wage has not. In the absence of a national raise, states and localities have taken action. Since 2013, 17 states and the District of Columbia have raised their minimum wage rates. Today, a total of 29 states as well as the District of Columbia have a minimum wage higher than $7.25.

Thanks to this momentum, the minimum wage rates in 14 states will go up in January. In a dozen of those states – Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia – it will be because of legislative action or voter referenda over the past two years. For workers earning the minimum wage in Colorado and South Dakota, they’ll see a boost in their earnings because of automatic cost of living adjustments tied to inflation. And while their increases will be delayed until the summer, it’s worth noting that workers in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Minnesota will see increases in 2016 owing to legislation enacted in the past two years.

Also going up in January is the federal minimum wage for workers on certain federal contracts. In 2014, President Obama took action to raise the minimum wage where he could and issued an executive order bringing the minimum wage for workers on federal service contracts to $10.10 per hour. At the time, he also guaranteed that the wage would be adjusted annually to keep up with inflation. In January, their minimum wage will see a slight bump to $10.15 per hour. It’s a small increase because inflation was modest over the last year, but every penny counts for an employee putting in the hard work yet still struggling to get by.

While we’ve seen a lot of progress around the county on lifting the wage floor for workers, there’s still work that needs to be done. If the federal minimum wage were raised to $12 per hour by 2020, some 35 million workers overall would benefit – nearly 90 percent adults, and more than half working women. More than 2 million people would be lifted out of poverty. Raising the national minimum wage would be good for families with millions no longer needing food assistance and 23 percent of all children seeing at least one parent getting a raise. And for business owners, a higher minimum wage means reduced turnover costs, higher morale and more productive workers.

This is an issue that is about the dignity of work and our national values. I applaud those public officials and voters across the country who have already taken action to raise their minimum wages. This January, the workers who are seeing a raise are a step closer to getting a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

Heidi Shierholz is the Labor Department’s chief economist.

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Comments (17)

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  1. Thomas Sanborn says:

    I agree with the minimum wage increase. It’s time to raise the bar and eliminate poverty. As an economic major and having a bachelor degree in business and finance, it’s relevant and necessary to increase pay and stimulate the economy. The increase will bring additional taxes for local government and federal as well. Perhaps we can rejuvenate manufacturing and produce superior products and services. As a capitalistic nation with a competitive nature this change is for the good of a great country

  2. Sandra Evans says:

    I am so grateful to Pressident Obama for raising the minimun wages. Raising the minimum give family the opportunity to take better care of their family, have a saving and change their living conditions. We need to ask Congress would they live on $7.25 hourly wages ?

  3. Gloria Marshall says:

    I would love to see a raise in Tennessee, what’s forbidding it from coming into effect immediately. We have no way out of poverty unless this change take p l ace nationwide. I don’t understand why we haven’t seen any progress with this isuue. People are homeless and hungry… even while working 40, you still barely survive and struggle regardless. I worked at Denny’s making 7.25ph for a whole year. I did 2 positions and I never got raise. I was offered a job as a server who make 2.13ph while praying for decent tips. So, I quit and accepted a weekend job that I make 10.25ph, it’s temporary but it can lead to permanent through Randstad.

  4. William says:

    I would agree with raising the minimum wage IF there was oversight over the people that milk the system on welfare or other types of Federal or State assistance. I own my own business and have employees that already cut back on their availability for work because they don’t want to lose their food stamps or housing assistance. These employees already make $12-14 an hour but yet the extra effort is not worth them making more to lose these other welfare benefits.

    Everyone making more money is a noble cause. In theory, if my employees make more they can spend more, which helps the economy. A stronger economy helps my business. Being a travel / vacation company means that I depend on people to have extra disposable income. None of this is going to matter though if businesses have to pay more, hire more and it doesn’t raise peoples income because they cut back how much they work.

  5. Stef says:

    I just seem to have a knack for avoiding every state that is involved in any type of legal progression. It seems to have gone downhill with every move. I’m picking the next place and it won’t be with a ignorant toss of the dart!

    PS. This is wonderful, but when will women make the same wages as men do? It terrifies me to try and do anything. I didn’t realize that things were still this way until an embarrasingly short amount of time ago. I would have never believed that was still acceptable. Can we raise women’s wages up to the standard and then, together, work on the foundation from there?

    I’m not certain what I speak of and this is just the tip of the iceberg. I have always avoided learning anything at all, as it was easier and didn’t concern me. Or so I thought. Forgive my immaturity but these are thoughts from someone who just had her eyes open. Thankfully, not too late!

  6. David Anderson says:

    If it is beneficial to raise the minimum wage, why not make it $100 an hour? Wouldn’t that be even more beneficial? As I suspect the answer may be that that would not be reasonable, then what is reasonable? And who is to decide that? I (and most economists, business owners, free market proponents, capitalists, and historical evidence) propose that the market decide. Not the government. Because this is the same government who is operating at least two (just for starters) of the most inefficient and biggest money losers in the world…..U.S. Post Office and Social Security.

    Also, a governmental website should not be used to promote a political issue such as this.

  7. David Anderson says:

    I left a comment yesterday that was pending review. I do not see it here, so I assume it was rejected. It was not malicious, threatening, nor was it inappropriate in any way. It was respectful and well written. But it did disagree that we need a hike in minimum wage. Why was it rejected? Are the only comments allowed here required to be in agreement with the article?

    So, first you are promoting socialistic causes. Now you are a governmental agency flirting with censorship. To solicit replies and then to reject dissenting opinions is not conducive to intelligent and constructive discussions.

    A reply would be appreciated.

  8. Wow! Colorado is raising the minimum wage from $8.23 to $8.31. Wow, just wow! I wonder what all the people earning minimum wage will do with the extra $3.20 per week they will earn? https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdle/minimumwage

    And just in case, for those of you whose sarcasm detector does not work, that statement above is sarcasm!

  9. Virginia Blanchard says:

    Applause to all of you who knew it was time to stand for what was the right thing to do.

    As for the rest of you only word needed here~~~~~ Karma~~~~~~

  10. Te'e Jr. Masaniai says:

    Why and how come some states getting wages increases, and some don’t? It deemed especially egregious. How Political Rhetoric, unscrupulous fundamental misfeasance, malfeasance, put upon hard working men and women of America to support their families. It seems like cost of living are up to 100%. And wage are at 40% ridiculous and despicable and maladminister conduct of consideration for peoples’ wages here in America. But, why the prices on “Houses, Apartment for rent are so high, as well as food, clothes, and everything else to support a family? This issue should take it under serious consideration, so the working family should be able to afford supporting his or her family foremost.

  11. Jake Robinson says:

    I understand the need for minimum wage increase, however as an small business employer I will have to increase my service cost which as in the past is a list of customers and layoff or termination of employees. How does that help those persons lives or the economy?

  12. Deana Perez says:

    I agree with the minimum wage increase as well, however, what happens is that everytime there is one, everyone raises their prices, you have to pay more taxes and that $1.00 / hr (in the state of CA) raise no longer means anything. I think someone needs to look at that part of the picture and see if there is a way to balance this out a little better. $1.00 / hr is not going to allow you to pay your bills better, buy more and healthier groceries and put clothes on your back when grocery stores and utility companies and retail stores all raise their prices. Oh great, it brings in more taxes but again, the poor continue to get poorer and the rich continue to get richer; someone out there should be able to figure this out

  13. Darin Perkins says:

    The efforts to raise the minimum wage (MW) are all one-sided. Why, as a country, do we continually focus on just handing out more money to people? Minimum wage jobs exist for a reason: they are for teenagers looking for work experience or for those adults who have not taken the initiative to get an education or training in a trade and better position themselves for a better paying job. If you want $15 an hour, then you should do what it takes to be deserving of $15 an hour. Simply showing up to work to flip burgers or clean toilets is not the determining factor. As a nation, we’ve turned the corner to where the majority of people have their hands out, demanding the minority give them what they have not earned. Pathetic.

  14. Julie says:

    This is long over due for America and the wealth it creates but then also creates such poverty. It really creates an economy everyone can participate in not just the wealthy. There are no excuses why companies shouldn’t do this on their own. We don’t need a government to tell us what is good for our fellow neighbor or worker.
    All companies should raise their minimum wage to at least $15 and cut back those wages from upper/middle management.
    We need to ask not only government but Big business if they could live on $7.25 or $11.00 an hour.
    And we say the US is so great! Frustrates me!

    • Masaniai, Te'e Jr. says:

      We don’t know who is telling the truth. Pres. Osama or Congress…Pointing fingers at each others as usual toward Political Rhetoric is nothing but, lies…moral Turpitude obviously

      Sad to see our Country going down the Drain slowly from Dishonest services, and total “Lack of Integrity” foremost.

  15. Cambridge says:

    I don’t think minimum wage shouldn’t be raised. It’s not a good solution for the economy.

  16. Spencer says:

    Here is the problem with a wage hike; 1) 4% of workers in the US make at or below minimum wage. 2) let’s say the US bumps minimum wage to $10 an hour. Great! Now 26% of Americans make minimum wage. 3) ok this is where it gets scary, a boost to $15 an hour now puts 42% of Americans in poverty.

    Wage hike ALWAYS bring up cost of living. So now someone who made a decent living at $15 is going to foreclose on his house because you couldn’t support your family flipping burgers? No kidding! The minimum wage is just that, it’s a minimum. If you want more , EARN more!