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States Taking the Lead on Higher Minimum Wages

It’s been a busy few weeks on the minimum wage front, as policymakers in a slew of states have moved to raise wages for low-paid workers. If you follow our blog, you already know that minimum wage increases are on the agenda in Maryland and New York – and you know that this is especially good news for women, who make up the majority of minimum wage workers in those states and across the country.

While a federal minimum wage increase – like the one proposed in the Fair Minimum Wage Act last year – is needed to boost pay for minimum wage and tipped workers throughout the U.S., it’s great to see momentum building at the state level. Here’s a quick run-down of recent developments:

  • California. A bill pending in the Assembly, AB-10, would increase the minimum wage from $8.00 per hour to $8.25 in 2014, $8.75 in 2015, and $9.25 in 2016, then adjust the wage annually for inflation beginning in 2017.
  • Connecticut. A bill pending in the Senate, S.B. 387, would raise the minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to $9.00 in July 2013 and $9.75 in July 2014, with annual indexing beginning in July 2015. NWLC’s new fact sheet shows that over 246,000 Connecticut workers would get a raise by 2014 under this proposal – and about six in ten of those workers would be women.
  • Hawaii. Last week, the House Committees on Labor & Public Employment and Economic Development & Business approved HB 916, a bill that would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.75 per hour beginning January 1, 2014 and adjust the wage for inflation annually starting in 2015. Governor Abercrombie proposed the same increase in his state of the state address.  
  • Illinois. In his state of the state address last week, Governor Quinn proposed raising the state minimum wage from $8.25 to $10.00 per hour over four years. Last year, the Senate Executive Committee approved SB 1565, which would gradually raise the minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to its historic high (over $10.50/hour in today’s dollars), then index it annually from that point. SB 1565 also would have eliminated the tipped minimum cash wage of $4.95 per hour, making tipped employees entitled to the same minimum wage as other workers. A similar bill is expected to be introduced in the current session.
  • Minnesota. A bill pending in the House of Representatives, HF 10, would raise the minimum wage for large employers (those with annual revenue over $625,000) to $9.38 per hour, and to $8.01 per hour for small employers, beginning in August 2013. The wages would be indexed for inflation beginning January 2014. (The legislature is also considering proposals for smaller wage increases.)
  • New Jersey. Following Governor Christie’s conditional veto of the minimum wage bill the legislature passed last year, legislators are pursuing a constitutional amendment that would allow voters to approve a wage increase on the November ballot, bypassing the governor. On February 7, the Senate approved the proposed amendment, which would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour in 2014 and index it annually thereafter to keep up with inflation. An updated fact sheet from NWLC and the Rutgers Center for Women & Work shows that women are the majority of the nearly half a million workers who would get a raise under this proposal.
  • New Mexico. Last week, Senator Richard Martinez introduced a bill (SB 416) to raise the statewide minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 per hour. Rep. Miguel Garcia (D-Albuquerque) has proposed a constitutional amendment (HJR 6) for the 2014 ballot that would index the state minimum wage for inflation – and the House Labor & Human Resources Committee approved the amendment proposal on February 5. A separate bill to increase in the tipped minimum wage from $2.13 per hour to 60 percent of the minimum wage is also likely to be introduced.  Take a look at NWLC’s new fact sheet to see how these measures would especially benefit women in New Mexico.
  • Rhode Island. Lawmakers are considering HB 5079, which would raise Rhode Island’s minimum wage from $7.75 to $8.25 per hour in 2014 and index it annually for inflation beginning in 2015.