Minimum Wage Rates Go Up In 13 States for 2014, Increasing Wages for More than 2.5 Million Workers
The minimum wage rose in thirteen states at the start of 2014. New Jersey saw the largest boost of $1 per hour thanks to New Jersey voters, who overwhelmingly approved the wage increase on the state’s ballot in November. Minimum wages have also gone up in Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island due to legislative action in 2013. (California also enacted a minimum wage increase in 2013, which will begin to phase in on July 1.) Minimum wages in the other nine states – Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington – increased automatically because they are indexed to inflation, a policy that ensures the minimum wage keeps pace with the rising cost of living.
According to analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, more than 2.5 million workers will get a raise from the increases that went into effect on January 1. In nearly every affected state, women are a majority of minimum wage workers. The economies of these states will also benefit: the higher minimum wages will add more than $619 million to GDP in 2014.
These increases are not the only good news minimum wage workers have had recently. Here in Washington, D.C., the Council has approved a bill to raise the minimum wage to $11.50 per hour by 2016, which Mayor Gray is expected to sign; similar increases have passed in nearby Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, which will begin to take effect in October. In Massachusetts, the state House may soon take up a bill passed by the Senate to raise the minimum wage to $11.00 per hour by 2016. And some minimum wage workers in the city of SeaTac, Washington, saw their pay rise to $15.00 per hour on January 1 due to a ballot initiative that voters approved in November (although a recent court decision excluding airport workers from SeaTac’s new minimum wage leaves the scope of the increase – which was intended to apply to all city workers – in question).
Unfortunately, the minimum wage still falls short for millions of Americans, especially women. Today, a full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour makes just $14,500 annually – nearly $4,000 below the poverty line for a family of three. Though state and local measures to raise the minimum wage are good steps, a higher federal minimum wage – like the $10.10 per hour proposed in the Fair Minimum Wage Act – would give millions more workers a raise and help lift families out of poverty. And because women are two-thirds of minimum wage workers across the country, increasing the minimum wage would also help close the wage gap. It’s time to raise the federal minimum wage.
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