Thirteen States Ring in New Year with Minimum-Wage Increases



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Staff Writer |

NEW YORK — New minimum-wage increases have gone into effect in 13 states, which the Economic Policy Institute estimates will boost the incomes of 2.5 million low-paid workers, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) reports.

Four states—Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island—passed laws in early 2013 to raise their minimum wage, while the remaining nine states—Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington—are adjusting their minimum wages in accordance with state laws requiring automatic annual increases to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

Here is a rundown of the new hourly minimum wages for 2014, according to the United States Department of Labor:

  • Connecticut — $8.70
  • New Jersey — $8.25
  • New York — $8.00
  • Rhode Island — $8.00
  • Arizona — $7.90
  • Colorado — $8.00
  • Florida — $7.93
  • Missouri — $7.50
  • Montana — $7.90
  • Ohio — $7.95 ($7.25 for employers with annual gross receipts of $292,000 or less)
  • Oregon — $9.10
  • Vermont — $8.73 (applicable to employers of two or more employees)
  • Washington — $9.32

The increases will generate an additional $619 million in new economic growth as low-paid workers spend their increased earnings on basic necessities like food, gasoline and housing, NELP says.

“As Congress drags its feet on raising the federal minimum wage, more and more Americans are earning poverty-level wages in expanding industries, like retail and fast food,” says Christine Owens, executive director of NELP. “In the face of federal inaction, states are boosting the paychecks of the lowest-paid workers, promoting growth and consumer spending, and hopefully providing an example for Congress to follow.”

The group stressed the importance of an increase in the minimum wage, adding, “58% of new jobs created in the post-recession recovery have been low-wage occupations.”

At the local level, San Francisco raised its minimum wage to $10.79 per hour, alongside San Jose, which will raise its wage to $10.15 per hour, in accordance with city statutes requiring annual inflation indexing, NELP says.

Legislators in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota and Hawaii have introduced proposals to increase their state’s minimum wage, while efforts to place minimum-wage increases on the November 2014 ballot are under way in South Dakota, Alaska, New Mexico, Idaho, Arkansas, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, according to NELP.

“In a rare example of regional cooperation, the District of Columbia City Council approved a bill [in early December] to raise the District’s minimum wage to $11.50 per hour,” NELP adds, “with parallel measures raising the minimum wage to $11.50 per hour also approved in the neighboring Maryland counties of Montgomery and Prince George’s.”

As of Jan. 1, 21 states and the District of Columbia have minimum-wage rates above the federal level of $7.25 per hour, which translates to just more than $15,000 per year for a full-time minimum-wage earner, says NELP.


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