Minimum wage rises in 23 states

A five, two ones and a quarter. That’s an hour’s work for the poorest workers in 20 states.


America’s lowest wage workers will get raises as of Jan. 1 in Washington and 22 other states—thanks to state minimum wage laws. The federal minimum wage used to set the floor for workers, but Congress has not raised it since 2007, and the federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009. If Congress had adjusted that for inflation, it would now be $10.23. And if the 1968 minimum wage had kept up with inflation, it would now be $13.94.

The federal minimum wage is all there is in 20 states—mostly Southern and Great Plains states, but also Idaho, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. In the face of inaction by Congress, state legislators, and sometimes voters, have taken action to raise the minimum in 30 states, including most recently Nebraska and Nevada, which passed minimum wage ballot measures this November.

The nation’s highest minimum wages are in the Washingtons. It’s currently $16.10 in Washington DC, and in the state of Washington it will rise to $15.74 on Jan. 1. 

To take the issue out of politics, 12 states have indexed the minimum wage to inflation so that it goes up every year automatically. That’s why it’s going up in 11 states as of Jan. 1. [In other states, it’s going up in specific amounts approved by lawmakers or voters.]

Oregon’s minimum wage also goes up by inflation each year, but on July 1. Unlike any other state, Oregon has three minimum wages, depending on region. Right now it’s $14.75 for the Portland metro area, $12.50 in rural Eastern and Southern Oregon counties, and $13.50 everywhere else.

New Wages on Jan. 1:

  • Washington $15.74 
  • California $15.50
  • Massachusetts $15.00
  • New York $14.20 ($15 for New York City, Westchester County and Long Island)
  • New Jersey $14.13 ($12.93 for seasonal businesses and those with fewer than six employees)
  • Arizona $13.85 
  • Maine $13.80
  • Colorado $13.65 
  • Maryland $13.25 ($12.80 at businesses under 15 employees)
  • Vermont $13.18
  • Illinois $13.00
  • Rhode Island $13.00
  • Missouri $12.00
  • New Mexico $12.00
  • Virginia $12.00
  • Delaware $11.75
  • Alaska $10.85
  • South Dakota $10.80
  • Minnesota $10.59 ($8.63 for employers less than $500,000 annual gross revenue)
  • Nebraska $10.50
  • Michigan $10.10 
  • Ohio $10.10
  • Montana $9.95

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