Minimum wage workers in more than a dozen states and several major cities will get a pay bump in the new year. Some states have automatic annual increases, but others have responded to complaints the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour just isn’t livable. Demands for pay closer to $15 an hour have become a picket line chant this year. For those calling for a higher minimum wage, 2015 was a win.
“We really saw more activity on raising minimum wages locally than I think we ever have. It was a banner year and we are looking forward to similar activity in 2016,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project.
Massachusetts and California are pushing wages up to $10 an hour in the new year. Cities like Seattle and New York are bumping pay for certain workers to get closer to $15.
“They’ll have a little more money in their pockets,” said Owens. “They’ll be able to pay bills on time, they’ll be able to do a little more spending.”
But some economists say a minimum wage boost doesn’t necessarily help alleviate poverty.
“I would say a more realistic perspective is that for some employees who don’t lose hours of their jobs, that may be the case, for other employees, that’s not going to be the case,” said Michael Saltsman, research director at the Employment Policies Institute. But, Saltsman agrees 2016 will be an important year in the minimum wage debate.
“Because when you have some states that are higher than neighboring states, it creates a nice natural experiment to study how severe job loss is or how high prices are raised after it goes up,” he said.
While some states have timelines for when they plan to enact a minimum wage hike to closer to $15, here’s a look at the 10 states that currently offer the highest minimum wage:
1. Washington – $9.47
2. Oregon – $9.25
3. Connecticut – $9.15
4. Vermont – $9.15
5. California – $9
6. Massachusetts – $9
7. Minnesota – $9
8. Rhode Island – $9
9. Alaska – $8.75
10. New York – $8.75
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