20 States Raise Their Minimum Wage

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The new year saw a new increase in minimum wage in 20 states across the country, including Florida, New Jersey, Alaska, Minnesota and Hawaii. Beginning on Jan. 1, the higher wages will raise the pay of 3.1 million U.S. workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Nine of the states — Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon and Washington — have raised wages as part of routine increases; in those states, according to the EPI, minimum wage is automatically indexed for inflation and raised accordingly each year.

In the other 11 states (plus Washington, D.C.), however, these changes are the result of new legislation passed by lawmakers or measures implemented by voters.

Some of the increases are as small as Florida’s 12 cents, which will raise the state’s minimum wage to $8.05, while others are much larger. Alaska, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Rhode Island will all see increases of $1, putting their minimum wages in the area of approximately $9 an hour, while South Dakotans will receive a raise of $1.25, bringing South Dakota’s minimum wage to $8.50 from its former $7.25.

Several states are going above and beyond $9, as Washington and Oregon’s 15-cent increases create a new minimum wage of $9.47 and $9.25, respectively.

According to the EPI, these wage increases will provide workers with an additional $1.6 billion in wages over the course of the next year. The institute’s analysis shows that these added wages will translate into about $1.1 billion in economic growth.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour; in 2015, 60 percent of all U.S. workers will be in states with “wage floors above the federal” level, says the EPI, which also notes that this hourly rate is worth 23 percent less than it was in the late 1960s.