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Minimum wage increases for workers in more than 20 states this year

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McDonald's restaurant employees rally for a $15 per hour wage in 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

McDonald's restaurant employees rally for a $15 per hour wage in 2016 in Los Angeles, California. David McNew/Getty Images

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This year, 30 states plus the District of Columbia will have a higher minimum wage than the federal rate of $7.25 per hour, which hasn’t increased since 2009.

Faith Booker works at McDonald’s and Burger King in Lakeland, Florida, making $9.70 an hour at McDonald’s and $8.56 an hour at Burger King. 

She worked full time at both chains for about nine months. Then McDonald’s cut her hours.

“I’m just pretty much struggling right now, just trying to make ends meet,” Booker said. “So it’s like paycheck to paycheck, pretty much.”

Booker is now choosing between paying bills and buying clothes for her kids. Florida voters approved a ballot measure in November, raising the state’s minimum wage to $8.65 an hour now, and $10 an hour next September. Booker said, right now, “making minimum wage isn’t enough to survive on.”

This year especially, voters are sympathetic to minimum wage workers on the front lines during a pandemic, according to University of Oklahoma economist Gary Hoover.

Like “the people who work at your local grocery store, the people who work at your local gas station where you get gas,” Hoover said.

Hoover said states where minimum wage workers still earn the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour insist that’s enough because the cost of living is lower there.

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