Forget Congress, these states raised the minimum wage on their own
For some workers, there is more to celebrate this New Year’s Day than just the fact that 2014 is over. In 21 states and the District of Columbia , the new year brings with it a pay raise for those who need it the most – those earning a minimum wage.
In his 28 January 2014 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, which has been at $7.25 since July 2009, to $10.10.
The following day Obama echoed that sentiment while speaking at Costco : “Right now in Congress, there’s a bill that would lift the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour – $10.10 – $10.10, it’s easy.”
Tired of waiting for Congress to move on the issue of minimum wage, a number of US states have taken the matters into their own hands.
Alaskans should see their minimum wage increased in 2015, but they have to wait just a little bit longer. The elections results of the 4 November ballot initiative first had to be certified. The first pay increase – from $7.75 an hour to $8.75 an hour will take place 90 days from the certification – probably at the end of February, says Ed Flanagan, chair of Alaskans for a Fair Minimum Wage .
Arizona passed the Raise the Minimum Wage for Working Arizonians act in 2006. The law gives the Industrial Commission of Arizona the authority to raise the minimum wage based on the cost of living measured by the consumer price index of all urban consumers (CPI-U). The 1.7% rise in the index between in the one year before August 2014 was applied to the state’s existing minimum wage of $7.90 per hour. The new rate is $8.05 per hour.
Arkansas is one of the US states where minimum wage was lower than the federally mandated $7.25 . That is, until 1 January. Thanks to a minimum wage ballot initiative, Arkansas low-wage workers will see their pay go up to $7.50 from $6.25 The minimum wage is then set to increase again in 2016 to $8 and in 2017 to $8.50.
Colorado’s minimum wage saw an automatic hike on Thursday to $8.23 and $5.21 per hour for tipped employees.
The adjustment is dictated by Article XVIII, Section 15, of the Colorado Constitution, which requires the Colorado minimum wage to be adjusted annually for inflation , on the lines of the Consumer Price Index for Colorado. The new rates replace 2014’s general rate of $8.00 and $4.98 for tipped employees.
At $8.70 an hour, Connecticut’s minimum wage was already higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. The state, however, passed a law to gradually increase it to $10.10 in the next three years. Connecticut was the first state to gradually raise its minimum wage to $10.10 . On Thursday the state’s minimum wage increased to $9.15 .
Florida’s minimum wage will rise to $8.05 on Friday, up from $7.93, following a 2004 amendment to labor laws that will adjust the minimum wage to match inflation. This increase will benefit an estimated 416,000 low-wage workers according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Hawaii, where President Obama celebrated the New Year , is also one of the states leading the way on higher minimum wage. While this year its minimum wage is only going up 50 cents to $7.75 , in the next two years it will go up 75 cents each year reaching $9.25 by 2017. In 2018, it will jump to $10.10 – a minimum wage campaigned for by the Obama administration. Along with Connecticut, Hawaii was one of the first states to gradually increase its minimum wage to $10.10.
Connecticut might have been the first, but it was not that only state to work toward $10.10. In May, Maryland’s governor Martin O’Malley signed a legislation that increases the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 by 2018. On 1 January it increased to $8 from $7.25. It will then go up another quarter in July – reaching $8.25.
Low-wage workers in Massachusetts will see their pay go up to $9 a hour . That’s a $1 boost. That’s not all. Forget $10.10. Thanks to a bill approved by the state’s legislature and signed into a law by Governor Deval Patrick , the state will have a minimum wage of $11 an hour come January 2017.
A July reading of the Midwest Consumer Price will take Missouri’s minimum wage up to $7.65 from $7.50. All businesses are required to pay at minimum the $7.65 per hour rate, except retail and service businesses whose annual gross sales are less than $500,000, according to a release from the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.
Montana Department of Labor and Industry has announced that the state’s minimum wage will increase from $7.90 to $8.05 in accordance with the Montana Code Annotated 39-3-409. The consumer price index has been used as a reference to measure the increase in cost of living to calculate the hike in wages. “An estimated 12,850 Montana workers, or 2.9% of the workforce, received hourly wages less than $8.05 per hour in 2014,” according to a department news release.
The federally mandated minimum wage of $7.25 is not enough for the low-wage workers of Nebraska, says Jeremy Nordquist , a state senator from Omaha, Nebraska . To help them make ends meet, Nordquist started a campaign to raise the state’s minimum wage and on 4 November, Nebraska’s voters joined him in asking for a raise. As a result, the state’s minimum wage in 2015 will go up to $8. Then in 2016, it will go up to $9 an hour .
New Jersey too will automatically raise its minimum wage this year. Article 1, Paragraph 23, of the New Jersey Constitution, and N.J.A.C. 12:56-3.1(b) raises the minimum wage from $8.25 to $8.38, according to a memo from New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development .
New Yorkers, who were already being paid a minimum wage of $8 an hour, will also see a bump in their paycheck. Their new rate? $8.75. The pay hike was effective 31 December. A law passed in 2013 by the state’s legislature guarantees that next New Year’s Eve they’ll get another raise , worth all of 25 cents.
In the new year, Ohio’s minimum wage will rise to $8.10 for non-tipped employees while those workers who receive at least $30 a month in tips will need to be compensated at $4.05 per hour, plus tips. The Ohio Department of Commerce has issued this directive following a 2006 amendment to the constitution, which according to Policy Matters Ohio, will affect one in 20 workers in the state.
Effective 1 January, Oregon employers will pay 15 cents more in hourly wages as the state has raised the minimum wage to $9.25. As in several other states, this change too is aligned with changes in the consumer price index. The hike will impact about 145,000 workers in the state, or roughly 8% of its total workforce, according to the Oregon Department of Labor and Industries.
Just like their counterparts in Massachusetts, Rhode Island residents’ minimum wage increased to $9 an hour from $8 an hour. This is the largest of three consecutive wage hikes approved by the state’s assembly. In 2013, Rhode Island’s minimum wage went up 35 cents and this year it went up 25 cents.
The only downside? If you are a full-time student younger than 19, you only have to be paid 90% of the state’s minimum wage: $8.10 an hour. Those 14 and 15 years old get even smaller wage – 75% of the state’s minimum wage. At $6.75, that’s 50 cents less than the federal minimum wage.
Despite the business community’s opposition to the South Dakota’s minimum-wage ballot initiative, the state’s hourly minimum wage increases to $8.50. In the years after, the minimum wage will be adjusted if there is an increase in the cost of living. “In no case may the minimum wage be decreased,” insists the South Dakota Department of Labor.
At $8.73 an hour, Vermont, too, is among the ranks of states that already have a wage that is higher than the federal minimum wage. The gap between the two wages got even bigger Thursday as Vermont’s minimum wage went up to $9.15 an hour. Planning for the years to come, in June Governor Peter Shumlin signed a law that gradually increases the state’s minimum wage to $10.50 an hour by 2018 . In the years after 2018, the state’s minimum wage will be adjusted based on the increases in the cost of living.
On 1 January, Washington’s minimum wage increased to $9.47 per hour. According to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, workers who are 14 or 15 years old may be paid 85% of the adult minimum wage, or $8.05 per hour. The change matches a 1.59% increase in the federal Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers over the 12 months leading to 31 August. This change is estimated to impact 67,000 workers and totals to an approximate increase of $312 in wages over a year, per employee.
West Virginia’s minimum wage hike would have passed unanimously through both its state House and Senate had it not been for one State Senator – Republican senator Clark Barnes . Despite his nay vote, the state’s minimum wage went up New Year’s Day to $8 an hour . In 2016, it will go up again to $8.75.
The District of Columbia’s minimum wage will rise to $10.50 on 1 July 2015. This is the second of three raises as part of the capital’s staggered increase from the 2013 minimum wage of $8.50. On 1 July 2016, the minimum wage will be raised further to $11.50 an hour. The three-step increase was initiated after mayor Vincent C Gray signed the Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2013 into law on 15 January 2014.
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