Minimum wage increases in ten states will take affect this month, raising wages between 10 and 35 cents per hour for nearly 1 million workers nationwide. Minimum wage will increase for Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. The minimum wage increases mean an extra $190 to $510 per year for workers earning, on average, $16,000 a year.
"For a low-wage worker, these increases are a vital protection against rising costs. In states without indexing, inflation slowly erodes the value of minimum wage workers' pay," David Cooper, an analyst with the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute, told Reuters.
The federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 an hour, but 19 states currently have a minimum wage rate higher than the federal minimum. Washington State has the highest minimum, $9.19 an hour. San Francisco boasts the highest minimum wage of any city in the U.S., raised in 2013 to $10.55. San Francisco approved a local ordinance in 2003 tying the minimum wage rate to inflation. It set the minimum wage rate at $8.50 and has increased every year but one since 2004.
Supporters of the minimum wage hike point to a bevy of statistics that indicate the federal minimum is not enough for working families. A full-time worker earning the federal minimum makes $15,080 a year, which is below the poverty line for a family of two. Supporters of minimum wage increases also point out that the minimum wage in 1968 of $1.68 an hour was equivalent to $10.58 an hour today, an indication that the minimum wage is not meeting the demands of inflation.
State Wage Increase New Wage
Arizona $0.15 $7.80
Colorado $0.14 $7.78
Florida $0.12 $7.79
Missouri $0.10 $7.35
Montana $0.15 $7.80
Ohio $0.15 $7.85
Oregon $0.15 $8.95
Rhode Island $0.35 $7.75
Vermont $0.14 $8.60
Washington $0.15 $9.19
The minimum wage increase will raise the pay for 855,000 workers making the minimum wage rate in those 10 states. Another 140,000 workers will see an increase as pay scales are adjusted to reflect the minimum wage increase.
Critics of minimum wage increases argue that higher wages hurt employment but some data suggest otherwise. Vermont, which offers higher minimum wages than neighboring New Hampshire, has a lower unemployment rate.