Minimum Wage Increases on January 1st in 13 States

Wednesday, January 1, 2014 at 5:26 PM by

A total of 13 states welcomed in the New Year Wednesday with minimum wage increases – thanks in many cases to formulas that automatically adjust it for inflation.  Washington State leads the way, with the nation’s highest state minimum, which is now $9.32 an hour (compared to the federal minimum of $7.25).  A 14th state, California, will also increase the minimum wage this year – to $9 per hour, but not until July.   

According to an analysis by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), the minimum wage increases that took effect today directly benefit over 1.4 million people — 1,441,000 to be exact.  An additional 1.1 million are expected to benefit as employer pay scales are adjusted upward to reflect the new minimum wages.  A number of additional workers will benefit from local increases. 

Wisconsin is not one of the 14 states where the minimum wage is increasing this year, nor is it one of the 21 states that exceed the federal minimum. Our floor on wages remains right where it has been ($7.25 per hour) since the last federal increase took effect in July 2009. 

Rep. Cory Mason (D. Racine) and Senator Robert Wirch (D. Pleasant Prairie) have introduced legislation in both the Senate (SB 4)  and Assembly (AB 542) that would add Wisconsin to the current list of nine states that regularly adjust the minimum wage by automatic formula.  Their proposal would increase the minimum to $7.60 per hour and then index it annually for inflation.  It would also repeal the current provision in the state statutes that limits local autonomy by prohibiting local governments from adopting a minimum wage above the state minimum. 

Democrats in Congress have proposed raising the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour, but that Harkin-Miller bill faces strong opposition from the GOP majority in the House.  In a blog post several months ago, my colleague Tamarine Cornelius summarized an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute that concluded that more than half a million Wisconsin workers would benefit from the Harkin-Miller bill. 

Gallup poll about two months ago found strong public support for boosting the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour.  That change was supported by 76% of Americans, with only 22% opposed.   Read more in our November 2013 blog post

Jon Peacock  

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