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13 States That Get Higher Minimum Wages This Year

13 States That Get Higher Minimum Wages This Year

Starting on the first of the year, almost one and a half million people in 13 states began taking home fatter paychecks. While the federal minimum wage languishes at $7.25 an hour, 21 states now have wages higher than that, with some boasting wages above $10 per hour. In some communities, that’s going to result in lifting workers out of poverty and making it easier for them to engage with their local economies. That, in turn, should stimulate more economic activity, a key necessity for economic recovery in a country still flailing with the aftermath of a recession.

Some of these states have voted in flat wage increases to reflect the fact that their wages are inadequate for workers to survive comfortably. Other wages are adjusting automatically to address cost of living increases, thanks to progressive wage legislation. In specific cities and regions like San Francisco County and SeaTac, individual measures have resulted in minimum wages even higher than those in the rest of the state. These measures are an illustration of the power of organizing work around fair pay and minimum wages in communities where the cost of living can be particularly high.

Of course, the minimum wage still doesn’t keep pace with inflation or worker productivity; it would be at over $20 now if that was the case. But these increases are a good step in the right direction, especially in the context of battles on the federal level over proposals to increase the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour or more — a move supported by the Democrats, but opposed by many Republicans and other conservatives. Despite the economic arguments in favor of a higher minimum wage, which include lifting millions of workers out of poverty, particularly people of color, who tend to disproportionately work in low-wage jobs, and stimulating local economies, conservatives are reluctant to support fair wage campaigns on the grounds they will negatively effect businesses.

This opposition is curious, given that conservative arguments for tax cuts have often included the argument that people with more money are more likely to spend it, thus stimulating local businesses. While payroll costs do indeed increase when the minimum wage increases, this can be offset by higher sales as a result of more workers having more money in their pockets.

The battle over fair wages in the United States has been taken to the streets by growing movements like the Can’t Survive on $7.25 campaigners pushing for better wages for fast food workers across the country. The fast food industry offers some of the lowest wages in the country, with many workers struggling to make a living on multiple low-wage jobs as a result of labor practices at companies like McDonald’s and Burger King. Other large chains like WalMart have also been targeted for unfair wages, with notable PR mistakes like inviting workers to contribute to a food drive…for the company’s own employees.

Will campaigners in the United States manage to successfully implement fair wages, relying on both economic and social arguments to persuade political operators to consider increasing wages across the board? Despite lobbying for living wages across the country for decades, they haven’t been successful, but recent years have marked a growing interest in the issue, and a push from a significant number of Americans. It might be time for a radical change in the wage structure of the United States.

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Photo credit: 401(k) 2012

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93 comments

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4:54AM PST on Jan 16, 2014

I have seen that the only thing a rise in the minimum wage does is increase the prices of everything.

4:15PM PST on Jan 10, 2014

I always felt waitresses were lost in the crowd. If slow business, a $3.00 an hour base wage was so pitiful. Tips are nice but it seems the customers are paying you, not the company. Then aren't tips in some companies pooled.

4:15PM PST on Jan 10, 2014

I always felt waitresses were lost in the crowd. If slow business, a $3.00 an hour base wage was so pitiful. Tips are nice but it seems the customers are paying you, not the company. Then aren't tips in some companies pooled.

10:03AM PST on Jan 10, 2014

Democrats in Congress want to raise it to 10.10 an hour. That's a lot better then 7.25. I myself think it should be 15. But 10.10 is a good start.

5:31PM PST on Jan 9, 2014

I am a little confused. Are the Repubilcans all to blame. Are they really that bad?? You came me the impression that the Democrats are wonderful people. Hey How is Barack these days. Don't see much improvement lately. Let's face it the country has gone down hill for years, even decades. Nothing is going to change.

7:12AM PST on Jan 9, 2014

Unfortunately, Maryland is one of those state that is still dragging its feet. Worse, there are literally 3 or more people applying for every ONE job that is available, and you have people like my husband who graduated from trade school with his HVAC certification and apprentice license, who has literally been trying to find a job in that field for over TWO YEARS now and STILL has not gotten hired! Worse, he's been forced to take a job as a security guard (he has over 25 years' experience in that field) for the piss-poor paycheck of $8.55 per hour. If it weren't for my DIY skills as a stay-at-home mom growing our own vegetables/making or putting up our own food, mending clothing or fixing what breaks down, shopping at yard sales or thrift stores, and a little help from my parents, we'd be in Section 8 housing and trying to survive on food stamps! And yes, being a SAHM IS in fact a REAL JOB that does deserve a paycheck too!

Minimum wage should mean LIVING WAGE, and the Rethuglicans who believe otherwise should try living on that for a minimum of a YEAR and see how hard it is to survive!

5:59AM PST on Jan 8, 2014

Not in New Mexico - our Republican governor VETOED a bill passed by our state legislature to raise our state minimum wage by $1.00, to $8.50 an hour. She blamed majority Democrats in the state legislature for seeking "too large" an increase, and claims she would have signed a bill for a 30-cent raise, to $7.80. How big of her. It's time to dump Susana Martinez in November!

11:01AM PST on Jan 7, 2014

The GOP is Evil, Sick, Crazy and Working Against America !!!

4:45AM PST on Jan 7, 2014

@liliana G

An imported item that costs $1 to buy from e.g. China, generates $3 to $4 in US economic activity. The retail chain is long, importers/distributors, wholesalers, retailers, transport. Each link in the chain takes a cut, adds value, employs people who spend their wages on other things, ....

1:55AM PST on Jan 7, 2014

Linda: You agree with Bill Cosby, not Frauddy R.

Frauddy: the six Walton heirs did not come to have more wealth than the poorest 42% of the population by running an unprofitable business. Conservative math has become truly crazy lately, as you just demonstrated. Fortunately, most Americans, including most Republicans, are beginning to catch on as to who the 'welfare queens' really are and are becoming annoyed at huge multinational corporations who rely on tax payers to subsidize their wages while managing to avoid paying their own share of taxes. The fantasy that minimum wage jobs are entry positions for teenagers is over. Everybody now knows an adult who once had a real job and can't find anything but benefitless minimum wage crap because the 'job creators' aren't creating anything else. It was always a risky strategy to make worshiping business people your main campaign vision, but it's going to prove lethal one of these days, in the very near future.

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