Workers in 10 States Start 2013 With a Raise

Wage workers in ten states started the year off with good news as 10 states boosted the minimum wage for 2013.

In Rhode Island workers will see the biggest difference with employees there bringing home an average of $510 more per year with the raise. Last June the state passed a law raising its minimum wage 30 cents to $7.75 an hour. Workers in Colorado, Florida, Arizona, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Ohio will also take home more pay for the year as the minimum wage in those states will increase between 10 and 15 cents an hour which translates roughly to an extra $200-$400 more in take home pay per year.

According to reports, an estimated 855,000 workers will be directly affected by the wage changes, while another 140,000 are projected to be indirectly affected by the changes as employers readjust their pay scales to accommodate the new minimum, according to analysis by the Economic Policy Institute. The new hourly rates will range between $7.35 in Missouri and $9.19 in Washington state, which has the highest minimum wage in the nation. Though thanks to the looming “fiscal cliff” deal, the question remains whether workers will actually notice the additional pay. Eliminating the payroll tax cut, first enacted in 2010 could effectively eliminate the wage boost.

The raises were not simply the result of benevolent lawmakers who understand that rising incomes for hourly workers are a critical component of digging our country out of economic stagnation. These states all have “indexing” laws that require automatic annual adjustments to the minimum wage to keep pace with rising living costs. As noted by Jen Kern of the National Employment Law Project, workers in states that don’t have such indexing laws lose out. “If you don’t do this, the lowest wage earners are going backwards” Kern told CNN.

States are required to set state wage laws at least at the same as the federal minimum wage. That wage has been set at $7.25 an hour since 2009 and is not indexed to inflation. That works out to an annual income of about $15,000 — thousands of dollars below the poverty level for a family of four. The new state increases, while important, will hardly be enough to lift families out of poverty. At best it will mean those families don’t face an immediate threat of sliding into even deeper economic trouble.

The increases are also important since more and more Americans are hourly wage-earners. According to the NELP, the majority of jobs created during the economic recovery have been low-wage positions that pay $13.83 an hour or less. “That makes it harder to dismiss the minimum wage as some marginal labor standard,” Kern said. “In fact, it’s a key component of economic recovery because so many of the jobs that are now characterizing our economy are impacted by minimum wage.”

In 2013, 19 states and the District of Columbia will have rates above the federal level. And while our elected leaders point their fingers at self-created economic crisis and argue over saving money for those who already have millions tucked away, when they decide to tackle wage stagnation and the expansion of poverty in this country that has come with it, then we will know they are serious about creating positive economic growth in this country.

 

Related Stories

4 Things You Should Know When Falling Off a Fiscal Cliff

Boehner Chooses, Loses

Boehner Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

 

Photo from uhuru1701 via flickr.

91 comments

Christine Jones
Christine J.3 years ago

It is sad but true that the rich get richer while the poor get ... well, you know what the poor get.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

David F, you are absolutely right!

Susan Allen
SusanAWAY Allen3 years ago

Yay Mary, you go girl!

Mary B.
Mary B.3 years ago

David F. Your wrong, wrong, wrong, about your therories and probably everything else people like you still believe to be true. Just because the economic system goes on as it does , doesn't mean it has too. Plenty of people world wide have been picking apart the old assumptions, and they are, surprise surprise, designed to, keep and funnel wealth to the top.
So you can save your breath, I don't believe a word you say, and since other people have already studied economics and are searching out new solutions, you're the dead weight that keeps the status quo in effect, so don't bother me again.

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra3 years ago

Thank you Jessica, for Sharing this!

Diana Roth
Diana Roth3 years ago

Not nearly enough of a so-called raise.

Tammy Taylor
Tammy Taylor3 years ago

thanks

Mary B.
Mary B.3 years ago

To those who resist raising wages to not just minimum, but a livable wage, I have a few choice things to say. 'Wage earners' are people. They exist for their own benefit, not to make you rich, or still thinking your pathetic economic theories are absolute truths.When the fog really starts parting and you look at some of the stupid assumptions we're fed about the monetary system, world wide, it becomes very tempting to arrest you for treason or at least fraud against the people of THE WHOLE EARTH! Printing more money does not cause inflation. It puts more buying power in the hands of the working people who make everying possible in the first place.And if it means the business can't survive, well then, it's high time we fund the safety net directly by printing more money.It is time to get real. People are expensive to feed, clothe, house and provide health care for when needed.The main money supply should be for the health and well being of the people, not the institution of business.And people need to get real about how long it takes to refresh a depleted fishery, or forest or what ever we depend on, and learn to conserve everything and demand products and services that will help us all live well on less. So let us begin but telling our politions that we will tollerate no more of this nonsense holding us hostage with stagnent wages and pidly SS increases of $8. a month, or and extra $200 a year if your wage goes up a few cents.
And no more of this moralizeing about whether o

Bruno Moreira
Bruno Moreira3 years ago

noted ty

Mary L.
Mary L.3 years ago

And it's never enough to live on unless you are single and living at home with mom, dad or mom and dad paying rent/mortgage, utilities and now thanks to the Affordable Health Care Law health insurance.

Forget a family or saving for a non existent future.