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Several States Raising Minimum Wage

By Joanne Deschenaux  9/25/2013
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A bill that will increase California's minimum wage to $10 an hour by 2016 was passed by the state Legislature and sent to Gov. Jerry Brown, who signed it Sept. 25, 2013. The measure will raise the current $8 minimum wage to $9 an hour on July 1, 2014, and to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016.

Three other states—Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island—have passed bills providing for minimum-wage increases starting in 2014. In Connecticut the $8.25-per-hour wage will rise to $8.70 on Jan. 1, 2014, and to $9 on Jan. 1, 2015. 

New York’s current wage of $7.25 will increase in three stages: to $8 on Dec. 31, 2013; to $8.75 on Dec. 31, 2014; and to $9 on Dec. 31, 2015.

In Rhode Island the  minimum wage will jump 25 cents, from $7.75 to $8, effective Jan. 1, 2014.

New Jersey could become the fifth state this year to increase its state minimum wage if voters approve a measure on Nov. 5 that would boost the hourly rate by $1, to $8.25.

Other States Weighing Wage Hikes

In states as diverse as Alaska, Idaho, Massachusetts and South Dakota, workers-advocacy groups are pushing to put minimum-wage increases on state ballots in 2014, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). What’s more, in Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota and the District of Columbia elected officials are talking about a need for change, the NCSL said.

In Maryland, Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley has said he would back a bill raising the state’s $7.25 minimum wage. All three of the Democrats seeking to succeed O’Malley, whose term expires next year, have spoken out in favor of a wage hike.

Bills to raise the minimum wage failed during the 2013 Maryland legislative session, in part because of resistance from retailers and other employers.

As of Aug. 29, 34 states and Puerto Rico have introduced legislation on minimum-wage issues, including providing for increases in the state hourly wage, addressing base wages for tipped employees, and restricting the authority of local units of government to enact or enforce a local minimum wage, among other provisions. Five bills on the minimum wage were also introduced in the U.S. Congress.

Current State Minimums

Nineteen states and the district mandate a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour, according to NCSL data.

States cannot set a minimum wage that is lower than the federal standard, but they are free to establish a higher one. Washington currently has the highest minimum wage at $9.19, followed by Oregon ($8.95) and Vermont ($8.60). Connecticut, the District of Columbia and Illinois all have a minimum of $8.25. In addition, some 120 cities have enacted “living wages,” which set a minimum standard for businesses that receive city contracts. City minimums range from $9 to $16 an hour.

The state with the highest proportion of minimum-wage workers is Idaho, with nearly 8 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ten states (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington) increased their minimum wage for 2013, through automatic increases indexed to the cost of living.

Joanne Deschenaux, J.D., is SHRM’s senior legal editor.  

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