Reclaim the American Dream

Progress Report: Minimum Wage

Progress Report:
Raise Minimum Wage

29 States Top Federal Minimum Wage

With Washington gridlocked on the bread-and-butter issue of a fair minimum wage for  two decades, states and cities across the nation have seized the policy initiative to raise the minimum wage in their jurisdictions. House Democrats tried to break the congressional logjam in July 2019, by passing a bill to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per your by 2025. Three Republicans joined 228 Democrats voted for the bill, but  overwhelming GOP opposition in the Hioue forteshadowed the bill’s doom in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Congress paralyzed by partisan gridlock, voters or legislatures in 29 states from Maine to Hawaii and more than a dozen major cities have pushed their wage floors up. well above the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. In January 2019, nineteen states boosted their minimum wages, either through newly voted wage hikes or automatic annual increases pegged to keep up with inflation in the cost of living.

Even though the federal minimum wage remains frozen and ignored both by the Trump White House and the Republican Congress, action by the states has added $5 billion to the paychecks of 4.5 million workers. By action either of the legislature or voters in a referendum, ten states have been boosting their wage floors, year by year, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine,  Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Automatic cost of living increases are in operation in eight more states  states –  Alaska, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, and South Dakota.

At present, 13 states have adopted the federal minimum as their own, and six states have minimum wage levels below the federal level to cover workers who are exempted from federal coverage, such as those in small businesses. Two states, Georgia and Wyoming, have no minimum wage law at all.

 Flash Strikes and the “Fight for $15” 

Fast-food restaurants and chains like McDonald’s became the target battleground of what became known the “Fight for $15,” with employees staging one-day “flash strikes” in a nationwide campaign to pressure liberal-leaning cities and states to adopt $15 as a wage floor.
For five years or more, McDonald’s fought bitterly against the higher legal minimum wages. But in March 2019, McDonald’s switched course and declared, “We believe increases should be phased in.” What’s more, in a letter to the National Restaurant Association, Vice President Genna Grant also announced that McDonald’s, with 800,000 employees in the U.S., was quitting the association’s political lobbying campaign “to defeat wage increases” from being enacted in Washington and ins tate capitals.

People rally for a $15 minimum wage in Seattle, 2014. Source: Seattle City Council.

The first breakthrough in the “Fight for $15” came in an unlikely spot – the small city of SeaTac, surrounding the airport area of Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. When employers rejected union demands, labor, religious, and community groups scored a victory for the $15 minimum and other protections in SeaTac through a popular referendum in November 2013. Seattle became the first big city to adopt the $15 minimum in 2014.

Within two years, the states of California and New York also adopted $15 an hour as their target, to be reached step-by-step over several years, as in Seattle. With more than a score of states raising their minimum ages gently, several large cities pushed ahead with bolder increases  – cities like Albuquerque, Chicago, Los Angeles, Providence, Kansas City, San Francisco, San Diego, and Santa Fe.

But this patchwork of increases met strong opposition from conservative and business groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. ALEC lobbied state legislatures into passing laws barring their own major cities and county governments from raising local minimums. In all, 18 states have passed such pre-emptive legislation – Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.

Typically, the business cry against raising minimum wages is that it will cost jobs, because employers will lay off some workers to check against rising labor costs. But a 2017 study of Seattle’s gradually rising minimum shows no job loss in the pivotal restaurant sector where business leaders had predicted labor cutbacks. Economists at the University of California in Berkeley reported their surveys “show that wages in food services did increase—indicating the policy achieved its goal… Employment in food service, however, was not affected, even among the limited-service restaurants.”

In a few cities, such as Philadelphia, mayors and city councils have gotten around the state pre-emption laws by targeting higher minimum wage measures more narrowly to cover just city employees and city contractors. This has also happened in less urban areas such as Buncombe County and Durham County in North Carolina.

 Companies Leapfrog Congress, Raise Minimum Pay 

Under pressure from labor protests and a tightening labor market, major corporations are leapfrogging far ahead of Congress. Target just became the first national retailer to commit to a $15 an hour minimum wage (in 2020), starting with a boost to $11 in 2017 for 100,000 seasonal workers along with its 338,000 regular employees. Big box retailer Coscto bumped up its minimum to $13.

Target has pledged to pay its workers $15 an hour by 2020, starting with a boost to $11 in the 2017 holiday season. Image, (CC) Stephen Downes.

The upward wage push in retailing started in 2014 and 2015 when Target, Gap, Wal-Mart, Ikea, and Marshall’s pushed their wage floors to $9 or $10 an hour, and Costco went to $11.50. Some financial companies went further. Aetna boosted entry-level pay from $12 to $16 in early 2015 and JP Morgan Chase went to $16.50 an hour. Explaining Aetna’s 33% pay raise to its lowest paid customer-service agents and claims adjusters, CEO Mark Bertolini asserted: “For the good of the social order, these are the kinds of investments we should be willing to make.”

On that theme, Seattle Billionaire Nick Hanauer, in an online message to “My Fellow Plutocrats,” argues that America’s sharp political divisions will not ease until more CEOs raise rank-and-file pay. “Our country will not get better until our fellow citizens feel better, and they will not feel better until they actually do better,” Hanauer writes. “This is the stark, simple fact at the heart of our ailing political system. Nothing is going to get better until we enact laws and standards that persuade or oblige every business to pay every worker a fair, dignified and livable wage.”

Obama Boosted Contractor Wages, Overtime Pay

In his final year, President Obama – blocked by Republicans in Congress from raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, sign an executive order raising the minimum for companies with federal contracts, boosting the pay pay of roughly 560,000 employees, according to administration economists.

In another executive action, the Obama Administration qualified 13.5 million more Americans for time-and-half overtime pay by expanding the salary levels covered by overtime rules. In May 2016, the Labor Department ordered that employees working more than 40 hours a week were entitled to overtime pay if their annual salary is under $47,476. The previous cutoff for overtime pay, set in 2004, was $23,650.

But when Donald Trump moved into the White House, his Labor Department  put a freeze on implementing the Obama rule  heeding objections from corporate CEOs and other business leaders. In September 2019, the Trump Administration finally set the new cutoff for time-and-a-half overtime pay at $35,500,  a move that benefited roughly 1.3 million workers but left out millions more that would have been covered by the Obama rule.

Can Higher Minimum Wages and Job Growth Go Hand-in-Hand?

One perennial argument is whether raising the minimum wage leads to layoffs and shorter hours, hurting job growth, as some business leaders and conservative economists contend, or whether jobs and wages can both rise together. Progressive economists point to growing evidence that in recent years job growth has moved ahead largely unabated in states that have aggressively raised their minimum wages, such as California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Washington.

In 2019, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that job growth has surged forward in New York state in counties along its southern border with Pennsylvania, even while New York raised its minimum wage year-by-year moving toward a $15 hourly minimum wage while Pennnsylvania has stuck with the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

In fact, the New York Fed found that in  certain sectors, job growth moved faster than in lower-wage Pennsylvania. “As the minimum wage was raised to levels above $10 per hour, leisure and hospitality employment in New York counties, if anything, increased relative to businesses over the Pennsylvania state line,” the Fed stated, emphasizing that fears of slower job growth “as a result of the rising minimum wage seem not to have been borne out.”

The New York Times found that New York employers like Mercer’s, a family friendly diner near the town of Ripley, were able to absorb higher wage costs and avoid layoffs and shorter hours by bringing in new equipment, introducing other efficiencies and modestly raising prices. Owner  Sheila Bennett said customers barely noticed the higher prices and the business moved ahead nicely.

Living Wage Calculator:

Is your state’s minimum wage enough for an average family to live on? Find out how wages in your state and hometown stack up against the cost of living in your area by visiting the Living Wage Calculator from MIT.

State by State Rundown:

You can check our state-by-state rundown from the National Conference of State Legislatures and find out where your state stands.


  • No state minimum wage law.
  • Aug. 18,2015- Birmingham City Council votes to raise minimum wage from federal level of $7.25 to $8.50 by July 2016 and $10.10 in July 2017.  Move would make Birmingham first city in southeast to lift its wage floor above federal level. “We can’t have a progressive city and low-wage jobs,” says Councilwoman Lashunda Scales, one of seven council members who backed the increase.
  • BirminghamWages

    image courtesy of

    Feb. 9, 2016 – Birmingham City Council votes to speed up city’s proposed $10.10 minimum wage to take effect on March 1. City is racing to get ahead of action by Republicans in Alabama legislature who are pushing to adopt a measure that would block Birmingham’s minimum wage increase and bar any other Alabama city or county from raising the local minimum wage.

  • Feb. 25, 2016 – Within an hour of fast-track votes in the Alabama legislature, Gov. Robert Bentley signs a bill blocking Birmingham’s minimum wage increase and bars any other localities from setting wage minimums, as news is breaking that Governor has quietly given $73,000 pay increases to four members of his cabinet and approved very handsome pay hikes for 29 members of his staff.
  • April 28, 2016 – Civil rights groups and fast-food workers in Birmingham file a federal lawsuit against Republican Governor Robert Bentley claiming that an Alabama law prohibiting cities from raising their minimum wages is racially discriminatory against predominantly black communities. The lawsuit, filed by the Alabama NAACP, Greater Birmingham Ministries and several workers, says Alabama’s new law is tainted by “racial animus” and violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. The city council in Birmingham, where three quarters of the 210,000 residents are black, had passed an ordinance raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, but the Republican-led state legislature rushed through a pre-emptive law to block the Birmingham ordinance from taking effect and deterring other Alabama cities from taking similar action.


  • In 1959, Alaska sets its minimum wage at 50-cents above the federal level, which originally gives it the nation’s highest minimum wage. Alaska’s minimum wage today is still 50-cents above the $7.25 federal minimum, but Alaska’s level has fallen to 19th among the states.
  • Nov. 4, 2014 – Alaska voters approve Ballot Measure 3, which raises the minimum wage from $7.75 to $8.75 on Jan. 1, 2015; to $9.75 on Jan. 1, 2016; and from then on be adjusted for inflation or remain $1 higher than the federal minimum wage, whichever level is higher.



  • Jan. 1, 2014 – Arizona’s minimum wage hits $7.90 an hour, based on a referendum on Nov. 7, 2006, when Arizona voters approved a boost in the state’s minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.75 per hour effective Jan. 1, 2007, lifting it above the federal level. Since then, Arizona’s minimum has been automatically adjusted each January 1, based on the federal consumer price index (CPI).
  • Jan 1, 2016 – State minimum reaches $8.05 on automatic escalator.
  • Nov. 8, 2016 – By a 58.9% majority, Arizona voters pass a referendum measure to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020 with annual cost of living increases thereafter.



  • July 1, 2014 – California’s state minimum wage rises to $9.00 per hour and automatically rises to $10.00 per hour effective Jan. 1, 2016, under legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September 2013. The measure increases pay for about 3.3 million workers, or 8 percent of California’s workforce. For California taxpayers, one benefit is that Medical, the state’s Medicaid program, is expected to save an estimated $564 million from 2015 to 2017 because many workers, at higher minimum wages, would no longer qualify for Medical.
  • Nov. 4, 2014 – San Francisco voters approve an incremental wage increase from $10.74 to $12.25 an hour on May 1, 2015, to $13 in July 2016, $14 in 2017 and $15 in 2018. Subsequently the wage will be indexed to the consumer price index. All San Francisco employers will have to comply regardless of business size and will get no financial offset for providing sick pay or healthcare benefits.
  • Nov. 4, 2014 – Oakland voters approve a minimum wage increase from $9.00 to $12.25 an hour in March 2015.
  • July 15, 2014 – San Diego City Council votes 6-3 to raise the city’s minimum wage $11.50 an hour by 2017. City Council President Todd Gloria and a coalition of progressive groups had pushed for a higher minimum of $13.09 an hour. With several business groups opposed, Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer vetoes the measure but is overridden by 6-2 vote in City Council. San Diego Small Business Coalition circulates petition seeking popular vote and the issue is put on the ballot for November 2016.
  • Jan. 1, 2014 – San Jose’s minimum wage rises to $10.15 an hour, under ballot measure passed by popular referendum on Nov. 6, 2012 that hiked city’s minimum from $8 in 2012 to current $10.15 level. Despite initial fears of job loss, the unemployment rate in the San Jose metro area actually falls from 7.4% in March 2013 to 5.4% by mid-2014. The San Jose Downtown Association reports that even with the minimum wage rising over an 18-month period, the number of restaurants in the downtown area increased by 20%.
  • Sept. 24, 2014 – Los Angeles City Council votes 12 to 3 to increase the minimum wage for hotel workers in the city from an average of nearly $10 an hour to $15.37 an hour. Beginning in July 2015, the increase will go into effect for hotels with at least 300 rooms—expanding to hotels with at least 150 rooms by 2016. The measure is expected to cover at least 40 hotels and, depending on the analysis, anywhere from 5,300 to 13,500 workers.
  • May 19, 2015 – Los Angeles becomes nation’s largest city to increase its minimum wage from $9 an hour to $15 by 2020, when City Council votes 14-1 vote in favor of $15 minimum. Measure is expected to affect almost 50% of LA City work force of 800,000 and put pressure on LA County to follow suit. Wages will go up in steps over five years – to $10.50 in July 2016, $12 in 20917, $13 in 2018 and $14.25 in 2019, to reach $15 in 2010. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees will have an extra year to carry out plan. Starting in 2022, annual increases will be based on Consumer Price Index average of last 20 years. Mayor Eric Garcetti, a Democrat, had proposed somewhat smaller increase last fall but said he would sign the wage hike bill. “We’re leading the country. We’re not going to wait for Washington to lift Americans out of poverty,” Garcetti told The New York Times. “We have too many adults struggling to be living off a poverty wage. This will re-establish some of the equilibrium we’ve had in the past.”
  • Oct. 10, 2013 – As a sovereign government with jurisdiction over the reservation, Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians raises the minimum wage for tribal employees to $10.60 an hour, beginning 2014. Jackson Rancheria, located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, is the largest employer in Amador County, where the wage increase is expected to impact more than 1,100 employees.
  • Feb. 23, 2014 – Gap Inc., headquartered in San Francisco, announces increase in minimum wage for 65,000 employees nationwide to $9 an hour in 2014 and $10 in 2015. CEO Glenn Murphy says higher minimum pay boosts employee morale, reduces labor turnover, delivers better service for customers, and more corporate profits over the long run. “To us, this is not a political issue,” Murphy asserts. “Our decision to invest in front-line employees will directly support our business, and is one that we expect to deliver a return many times over.”
  • Gov. Jerry Brown announces wage deal.

    Gov. Jerry Brown announces wage deal.

    Mar 31, 2016 – California becomes first state to adopt $15 minimum wage. In a straight party-line vote, Democratic majorities in state legislature pass bill to raise minimum wage from current $10 to $15 an hour by 2022. Vote was 48-26 in state assembly and 26-12 in the senate. Gov. Jerry Brown pushed the action to head off a pending ballot initiative sponsored by the Service Employees International Union that would have raised the wage floor more rapidly. Under new law, minimum wages rises in steps – to $10.50 on Jan. 1, 2017; to $11 on Jan. 1, 2018, and $1 more each year after that. When $15  minimum is reached, California level would be more than double federal level of $7.25 an hour, and higher than current world leaders, France and Australia. Supporters say move will reduce poverty, help struggling families and reduce California’s steep income inequality. Opponents warn that the big wage boost will backfire causing layoffs and pushing some employers to leave the state.




  • Since 1978, Connecticut state law requires the minimum wage to be 0.5% above federal minimum wage. The 1998 Connecticut General Assembly meets that requirement by raising the state’s minimum wage to $5.65 on Jan. 1, 1999 and to on Jan 1, 2000. Other raises have continued since then.
  • March 26, 2014 – Connecticut legislature approves a plan to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017, matching President Obama’s proposal. Current $9 minimum is hiked to $9.15 on Jan. 1, 2015 and 9.60 on Jan.1, 2016. Bill passes the Democratic-controlled legislature with solid majorities on a largely party line vote.


  • Jan, 30, 2014 – Gov. Jack Markell signs SB 6 into law, raising the minimum wage to $8.25 per hour in two increments – to $7.75 on June 1, 2014 and to $8.25 by June 1, 2015. The Delaware Department of Labor estimates that the increase will either directly or indirectly affect up to 40,000 people, nearly 10% of Delaware’s workers.


District of Columbia:

  • Jan. 1, 2014 – Mayor Vincent Gray signs the Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2013, unanimously passed by the D.C. Council more than three months earlier. The law raises DC’s minimum wage from $8.25 to $9.50 an hour on July 1, 2014 for all workers, regardless of employer size; to $10.50 on July 1, 2015 and $11.50 on July 1, 2016. After that, it will adjust annually based on the increase in the Washington metropolitan consumer price index.
  • June 7, 2016- DC council votes unanimously to raise hourly minimum wage to $15 over four-year period, expected to mean a raise for 70,000 janitors, parking attendants, dishwashers and retail workers. and probably put upward pressure on wages of 44,000 more workers paid slightly above new minimum. DC has greatest income disparity between top earners and lowest paid compared to any of 50 states.  Some business groups begrudgingly said they would accept higher minimum but House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said the city’s decision would “actually do more harm than good in so many instances, because what it does is it prices entry-level jobs away from people.” DC competes with suburban Virginia, across Potomac River, where the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour has been unchanged in seven years.



  • Jan. 1, 2014 – State minimum wage increases to $7.93 an hour, based on the voter-approved 2004 Florida Minimum Wage Amendment, which had set the minimum wage at $6.15 per hour, $1 above the then-federal minimum, and indexes it yearly to the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers. As of Jan. 1, 2017, is is set at $8.10.


  • 2002 – Georgia General Assembly increases minimum wage from $3.25 to $5.15 an hour. The state minimum still applies to businesses that do not engage in inter-state commerce; otherwise the federal minimum wage is used.



  • May 23, 2014 – Gov. Neil Abercrombie signs SB 2609, which incrementally increases the state’s minimum wage rate over the next four years, from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, beginning Jan.1. 2015, then to $8.50 in 2016, $9.25 in 2017, and $10.10 in 2018.
  • Hawaii’s Department of Labor reports that previous minimum wage increases have expanded jobs and business. “The last four times the minimum wage was increased, the number of businesses went up by an average of 2.4 percent and the number of jobs increased an average of 2.1 percent 12 months later,” said Dwight Takamine, Director of Hawaii’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.


  • State minimum wage matches federal minimum.
  • May 2014 – The Idaho Minimum Wage Initiative, which would have increased the minimum wage from $7.25 to 9.50 an hour by 2017, does not get enough signatures to qualify for the Nov. ballot.



  • 2004 – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich first increases Illinois’ minimum wage from the federal level of $5.15 to $5.50 an hour. Illinois’ minimum wage has since remained above the federal minimum wage.
  • Nov. 4, 2014 – Illinois voters approve a non-binding advisory measure that would raise the minimum wage from $8.25 to $10 an hour by Jan. 1, 2015.
  • Feb. 6, 2015 – Democratic-controlled Illinois Senate votes 35-18 to raise the state’s minimum wage to $9 per hour in 2015 and to $11 by 2019, snubbing a smaller wage hike plan floated by the state’s new Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. The bill was sent to the lower house, also controlled by Democrats.  But no final action is taken, leaving state minimum at $8.25 per hour, in January 2016.
  • Dec. 2, 2014 – Chicago City Council approves an ordinance that raises the minimum wage from $8.25 to $13 an hour over four years, affecting about 400,000 workers in the city. The plan, originally proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, would raise the minimum to $10 an hour in 2015, followed by increases to $10.50 in 2016, $11 in 2017, $12 in 2018 and $13 in 2019.



  • State minimum wage matches federal minimum.
  • April 10, 2014 – Indiana University increase the minimum wage of university employees from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour, effective July 1. The increase will result in pay raises for approximately 8,750 IU employees across the state.



  • State minimum wage matches federal minimum.



  • State minimum wage matches federal minimum.
  • Jan. 7, 2015 – Rep. Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, introduces Kansas Working Families Pay Raise Act to set state’s minimum wage st $8.25 an hour on July 1, rising to $10.24 an hour in 2017.  Bill is referred to committee. No action taken.


  • State minimum wage matches federal minimum.
  • Aug. 4, 2014 – Raymond Burse, interim president of Kentucky State University, announces he will give up $90,000 of his $350,000 salary so that 24 low-wage workers on campus can earn $10.25 an hour. Many of the workers including custodians, grounds keepers, and clerical staff were earning the federal $7.25 minimum wage.
  • Jan. 6, 2015 – Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer signs a scaled down version of a Metro Council minimum wage increase proposed last September. This action increases city’s minimum wage to $7.75 by July 1, 2015, to $8.25 by July 2016 and $9 by July 2017, and ties future increases to the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index for urban cities in the region.
  • June 8, 2015 – Gov. Steven L. Beshear signs executive order raising minimum wage for about 800 state employees to $10.10 an hour from current $7.25, effective July 1. Employees most likely to see biggest increases, governor’s office reports, are those working in veterans nursing homes, behavioral health facilities and state parks as well as employees of private companies working on state contracts. Overall, Kentucky has 32,827 state employees.


  • No state minimum wage law.
  • April 10, 2014 – House labor committee votes 10-6 against a measure to raise minimum wage in Louisiana from federal rate of $7.25 to $8.25 an hour and to permit local governments to set their own minimums.



  • May 5, 2014 – Gov. Martin O’Malley signs legislation that will gradually increase the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 by 2018, with step one from $7.25 an hour to $8.25 on Jan. 1, 2015, then two 50-cent-an-hour increases on July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017, and a fourth step up to $10.10 on July 1, 2018.
  • Nov. 2013 – In parallel actions of neighboring counties to maintain common wage policies, Montgomery County Council and Prince George County Council approve hikes in their wage floors to $11.50 per hour by 2017. The minimums rise to $8.40 an hour in Oct. 2014, $9.55 in Oct. 2015, $10.75 in Oct. 2016 and $11.50 in Oct. 2017.



  • June 26, 2014 – Gov. Deval Patrick signs a minimum wage increase, raising the state’s $8 per hour wage floor to $11 per hour by 2017. The measure, not indexed to inflation, increases the wage floor to $9 per hour in 2015, $10 in 2016, and $11 in 2017. In return for muting their opposition, business groups negotiate for lower unemployment insurance taxes and expanded business tax breaks for research and development.
  • May 8, 2018 – With Massachusetts legislature working on bill to raise state minimum wage to $15 by January 2021, business leaders hold rally at state house backing the increase with contention that higher wages are good for business by putting more money in hands of consumers. “Whether you are in recruiting, food, health care, retail or hospitality, your employees are your greatest assets,” asserts Megan Driscoll,CEO of PharmaLogics Recruiting in Quincy, one of state’s fastest-growing companies.”When employees aren’t valued, they know it. And so do customers. A fair minimum wage is a win-win for workers and businesses.”
    Minimum wage bill that also requires employers to offer paid sick leave is co-sponsored by 46 legislators. Nearly 300 business owners and executives in Massachusetts have signed the Massachusetts Business for a Fair Minimum Wage Statement supporting a gradual increase in the minimum wage to $15. Among leading advocates is Holly Sklar, CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. “When the minimum wage is too little to live on, it hurts businesses as well as workers,” says Sklar. “It undermines the consumer spending that businesses depend on to thrive. And low pay typically means high employee turnover. Raising the minimum wage to $15 will pay off in lower turnover, better customer service and productivity, increased consumer spending, and a healthier economy.”


  • March 28, 2006 – Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) signs legislation to increase Michigan’s minimum wage from the then-federal minimum of $5.15 to $7.40 in three steps from Oct. 2006 to July 1, 2008.
  • May 27, 2014 – In a surprise switch, Michigan becomes the first state with a Republican-controlled legislature and a GOP governor to raise its minimum wage in 2014. Gov. Rick Snyder, facing re-election in November, quickly signs bill lifting the state’s minimum wage by 25 percent, rising with annual increases from $7.40 an hour to $9.25 an hour by 2017. Republican legislators, previously gun-shy on the wage issue, come under public pressure from Raise—a coalition of civil rights, faith, labor and community groups that mount a petition drive to put a $10.10 minimum wage on the Nov. 2014 ballot. Republicans outflank the petition drive by enacting more modest and gradual wage increases by solid majorities in both houses of legislature.


  • Jan 1, 201 7- State minimum wage rises to $9.50 an hour for large employers and $7.75 for small employers, under plan adopted in 2014. Annual increases indexed to inflation in cost of living begin on Jan 1, 2018.
  • April 10, 2014 – State legislators approve a minimum wage increase from $7.25 to $8.00 per hour in Aug. 2014 to $9 in Aug. 2015 and $9.50 in Aug. 2016 – but only for businesses with gross sales of at least $500,000. Smaller employers, exempt from certain federal labor laws, have lower minimum targets of $6.50 hourly in Aug. 2014, $7.25 in 2015, and $7.75 in 2016. After 2016, the state minimum would be tied to an inflation index, with 2.5% cap on any annual increase. Larger businesses can pay lower temporary minimums for trainees or worker under the age of 18.



  • No state minimum wage law.
  • March 25, 2013 – Gov. Phil Bryant approves HB 141, which prohibits counties and municipalities from establishing mandatory minimum wages.



  • Jan. 1, 2014 – State minimum wage hits $7.50 an hour, based on the 2006 Missouri Minimum Wage Act—a ballot initiative that initially increased the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.50 an hour and adjusts it annually based on changes to the CPI.
  • March 12, 2014 – State Senate committee advances SB 531, sponsored by Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D) of St. Louis, to raise Missouri’s minimum wage from $7.50 to $10 an hour in 2015. SB 531 would continue to be adjusted annually for inflation. Legislative action has not been completed.
  • July 16, 2015 – Kansas City Council passes a measure setting minimum wage of $8.50 an hour with annual increases reaching $13 an hour by 2020.
  • Aug. 28, 2015 – Business owners opposed to raising minimum wage in Kansas City gathered enough signatures to put the issue on ballot in November 2015 election. New city minimum wage was to have taken effect by August 28, but this was suspended until referendum vote in November.
  • Aug. 28, 2015 – St. Louis aldermen pass ordinance to raise city’s minimum wage to $8.25 in October and in steps to $11 by 2018.  Mayor Francis Slay signs bill into law within an hour of passage. Hasty action is taken to get ahead of possible preemptive action by the state legislature.
  • Sept. 16, 2015 – Missouri legislature, with a pro-business Republican majority,  overrides Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that bars any political subdivision of the state to enact a minimum wage differing from state or federal requirements. However, this law exempts any jurisdiction that had a different minimum wage in effect on August 28, 2015, prior to passage of the nullifying legislation.
  • Nov. 6, 2018 – In a rebuke to the Republican-run state legislature, which last year passed a law blocking all minimum wage increases, a popular referendum of Missouri voters approved a statewide minimum wage increase from $7.85 per hour today to $12 by 2023. The measure calls for an 85-cent-an-hour rise in the minimum each year, starting next January. After 2023, annual adjustments will be made for inflation. Voters were reacting to the legislature’s action last year forcing St. Louis to backtrack on its increase of the city’s minimum wage to $10. After the legislature’s action, many St.Louis workers were forced to take pay cuts, touching off a wave of public anger and demand for a statewide popular vote on the issue. Nearly 1.5 million Missourians, or a 62.3% majority, approved the minimum wage hike.



  • Jan. 1, 2014 – Montana state minimum wage rises from $7.80 to $7.90 an hour, based on referendum passed by voters on Nov. 7, 2006. That popular vote sets the state’s minimum wage at $6.15 an hour ( $1 above federal level in 2006) and requires annual cost-of-living increases based on the Consumer Price Index. In 2017, minimum rises to $8.15 an hour.



  • Nov. 4, 2014 – Nebraska voters approve a minimum wage increase from $7.25 to $8 an hour in 2015 and to $9 an hour in 2016.



  • Jan. 1, 2014 – Minimum wage increases from $7.80 to $7.90 an hour, based on annual cost of living adjustments to minimum wage established November 2006 in ballot initiative passed by voters, approving an increase in state minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15 an hour for employers that do not otherwise offer health insurance to employees at a total cost of no more than 10 percent of the employee’s gross taxable income. Nevada minimum races $8.25 in 2016.
  • Jan. 20, 2016 – A movement to raise minimum wage in Nevada to $13 an hour in 2024 clears important hurdle when judge rejects lawsuit by business interests charging that ballot proposal is improperly drawn. Committee to Raise Minimum wage in Nevada must gather 55,000 signatures to put on the ballot this year a measure that would bump Nevada’s $8.25 minimum to $9.25 in late 2018 and raise it another 75-cents per year until it hits $13 in 2024.
  • Nov 8, 2016 – initiative for hiking Nevada’s minimum wage fails to qualify for popular referendum.


New Hampshire:

  • June 23, 2011 – State legislature overrides veto by Democratic Gov. John Lynch to enact new law that abolishes the previous minimum wage, which had been set above the federal level, and automatically ties New Hampshire to the federal minimum.
  • May 8, 2014 – By a vote of 13-11, the Republican-controlled Senate defeats a bill that would have raised the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour and tied it to inflation.


New Jersey:

  • Nov. 5, 2013 – New Jersey voters approve a ballot question that raises the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour in Jan. 2014 and amends the state Constitution to tie future increases to inflation. The amendment passes with nearly 61 percent in favor. State minimum raises automatically through inflation adjustment to $8.38 in 2016.
  • Gov. Chris Christie (CC) Michael Vadon and New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney (CC) Suitemikey

    Gov. Chris Christie (CC) Michael Vadon clashes with New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney (CC) Suitemikey over bill to raise state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2021.

    With 21-18 vote, Democratic majority of New Jersey Senate passes bill to raise state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021 and sends measure, already passed by state house, to Governor Chris Christie. If Christie vetoes bill, as expected, Democratic leaders in legislature plan to submit $15 minimum wage to a statewide popular referendum in November 2017.

  • Aug 30, 2016 – Gov Chris Christie vetoes bill to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour in stair steps over five years. Christie denounces measure, parallel to laws passed by New York and California, as a “really radical increase” that would “trigger an escalation of wages that will make doing business in New Jersey unaffordable.” Legislature’s Democratic leaders, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and State Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, immediately declare that they will introduce a ballot measure to seek a popular referendum in 2017 on whether to amend state constitution to lift the minimum wage to $15 by 2021. Sweeney, who is expected to run for governor in 2017, says public support for $15 minimum wage is so strong that he predicts a referendum will pass easily.
  • Jan 1, 2019 – With cost of living increases, minimum wage in New Jersey rises to $8.85 per hour.
  • Jan 17, 2019 –Democratic Gov. Philip Murphy reaches accord with legislative leaders to raise new Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024. Teen employees under 18, seasonal workers and workers at businesses with fewer than five employees would reach the $15 minimum in 2026.  Farm workers would reach a base minimum of $12.50 by 2024. An estimated one million workers would benefit from stair-step increases.. Governor Murphy, who made the minimum wage high a key campaign promise,  declared it would be “good for workers, good for our businesses and good for our economy. A higher minimum wage strengthens all of ew Jersey.” Three other staters – California, New York and Massachusetts – have already set the $15 target.

New Mexico:

  • Jan. 1, 2009 – New Mexico Minimum Wage Act passed by legislature increases the minimum wage from $6.50 to $7.50 an hour.
  • Feb. 2003 – Santa Fe voters approve the Living Wage Ordinance, increasing the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour for all businesses and nonprofit organizations with 25 or more employees, effective Jan. 1, 2004. The wage rises to $9.50 per hour in 2006 and $10.50 per hour in 2008. After lawsuit by the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce and New Mexicans for Free Enterprise, the New Mexico Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Santa Fe’s legislation, saying such power was granted to cities by state law.
  • Nov. 6, 2012 – Albuquerque voters approve a ballot proposal that raises the minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 an hour in Jan. 2013, and will automatically adjust with the rising cost of living—estimated to affect 40,000 workers.
  • June 2, 2014 –Las Cruces City Council votes 4-3 to raise the minimum wage from New Mexico’s $7.50 an hour to $8 an hour in July 2015 and $8.50 in Jan. 2016.


New York:

North Carolina:

  • State minimum wage matches federal minimum.
  • Sept. 4, 2012 – Buncombe County Commission passes a resolution to give full and part time county employees a living wage of $11.85 an hour, or, if employee gets health insurance, $10.35 an hour. Cities of Asheville and Durham and Durham County have also adopted living wage policy for public sector employees. State law bars local jurisdictions from setting local minimums for private sector, but lets local governments set minimums for their employees and contractors.

North Dakota:

  • State minimum wage matches federal minimum.


  • Jan. 1, 2014, Ohio minimum wage hits $7.95 an hour, based on referendum in Nov. 2006, when Ohio electorate voted to amend the State Constitution to enact a minimum wage of $5.15 to $6.85 an hour with annual adjustments to match increases in the cost of living, hitting $8.15 an hour in 2017.



  • State minimum wage matches federal minimum.
  • Feb. 24, 2014 – Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker signs an executive order that increases the minimum wage for 400 tribal employees from $9 to $9.50 an hour over the next two years, starting in October.
  • April 18, 2014 – Gov. Mary Fallin signs a bill that prohibits local governments from boosting their minimum wages.



  • Feb. 18, 2015 –Portland City Council votes unanimously to raise minimum wage to $15 for full-time city employees and employees of city contractors, but not covering part-time or seasonal workers. City action comes as Oregon state legislature considers $15 an hour statewide minimum.
  • Jan. 1, 2014 – Oregon’s minimum wage, linked to inflation, increases to $9.10 per hour, based on Ballot Measure 25, enacted by Oregon voters in 2002, requiring annual cost of living adjustments (CPI-U). Minimum reaches $10.25 in 2017.


  • State minimum wage follows federal minimum.
  • May 6, 2014 – Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter signs executive order mandating that city contractors pay minimum wage of $12 an hour starting Jan. 1, 2015. State law gives municipalities authority to set minimum wages for city employees and contractors though it bars local jurisdictions form setting braod minimums for private sector.
  • June 26, 2014 – IKEA US, based in Conshohocken, PA announces plans to increase average minimum wage for its US retail co-workers by $1.59 to $10.76 an hour on Jan 1, 2015.  IKEA says each of its 38 U.S. stores will base their entry-level pay on the MIT Living Wage Calculator,which estimates wages required “to meet minimum standards of living” in each county of each state. The increase will affect roughly 5,500 employees—roughly half of IKEA’s retail workers in U.S.


Rhode Island:

  • July 3, 2014 – Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D) signs a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage by $1, to $9 an hour, the third increase in three years. In order to win passage, proponents had to drop a provision to index the minimum wage to inflation.
  • June 5, 2014 –State House Finance Committee passes an amendment to state budget prohibiting municipalities in Rhode Island from establishing their own minimum-wage laws.
  • June 25, 2015 – Gov. Gina Raymond signs bill increasing state minimum wage to $9.60, effect Jan. 1, 2016.


South Carolina:

  • No state minimum wage law.

South Dakota:

  • Nov. 4, 2014 – South Dakotan voters approve a ballot measure that raises the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour, with cost of living adjustments from then on. Minimum reaches $8.65 in 2017.



  • No state minimum wage law.


  • State’s minimum wage matches federal minimum.


  • State’s minimum wage matches federal minimum.
  • March 3, 2014 – Utah’s house of representatives votes down bill that would move Utah’s effective minimum wage from federal level of $7.25 an hour to $10.25 an hour on July 14, 2014. Utah has a pre-emptive law that prohibits any locality within the state from adopting a minimum wage ordinance.



  • June 10, 2014 – Gov. Peter Shumlin signs bill mandating increases in Vermont’s minimum wage every January for the next four years to achieve a wage of $10.50 an hour by 2018, speeding up rise in previous legal minimums. In 2018, further increases will be indexed to consumer price index, with a cap of 5% on annual increases. Starting in Jan. 2015, the new law requires that tipped employees, such as waiters and waitresses, be paid a wage equal to half the regular minimum – $4.58 an hour up in 2015, up from 2014 level of $4.23 an hour.
  • Jan 1, 2017 – Vermont;s minimum wage rose to 10 per hour.
  • Ben & Jerry’s, based in Burlington adopts policy of paying a livable wage, recalculated yearly to keep up with actual cost of living in Vermont. In 2013, minimum wage was set at $16.13 an hour.



  • State’s minimum wage matches federal minimum.
  • Feb. 16, 2014 – Virginia House of Delegates committee kills a bill proposing to move Virginia from federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to $9.25 by 2015.


  • Nov. 3, 1998 – Washington voters endorse the state’s Minimum Wage Initiative 688, increasing the minimum from $4.90 to $5.70 per hour in 1999 and to $6.50 in 2000 (federal minimum was $5.15), and thereafter annually adjusting the state’s minimum wage for inflation. This escalator process, using the federal Consumer Price Index, automatically boosts Washington State’s minimum to $9.47 per hour in 2016. It requires employers pay restaurant workers the full state minimum wage before tips, in contrast to federal law which sets a minimum of $2.13 per hour for workers earning tips, assuming that tips bring them up to the standard federal minimum of $7.25.
  • Nov. 5, 2013 – Voters in SeaTac, a small city surrounding the Seattle-Tacoma airport, narrowly pass a ballot initiative raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour – highest in the nation. New law also requires employers to provide paid sick leave for all employees and give priority to part-time employees when adding to their full-time workforce. The citizens initiative, which wins by a slim 77-vote margin, was launched by Yes for SeaTac, a diverse coalition including SeaTac Faith Action Network, Puget Sound Page community organizing group, four major trade unions, the Somali Youth & Family Club, and local business owners and elected officials. On Jan 1, 2014, the initiative takes effect for about 1,600 van drivers, hotel, restaurant, and other employees working outside the airport. But law is immediately challenged in court by Alaska Airlines and other employers, contending that the SeaTac city ordinance should not apply on the territory of the airport, which operates under the Seattle Port Authority. So SeaTac city ordinance does not take effect for the core worker group – about 4,000 workers inside the SeaTac airport.
  • June 2, 2014 – Seattle City Council approves a stair-step increase in the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2017 for large employers and by 2021 for small businesses. After winning office in 2013 advocating a $15 minimum, Mayor Ed Murray convenes an “Income Inequality Advisory Committee” co-chaired by business leader Howard Wright and union leader David Rolf. The task force crafts a complex formula to phase-in the $15 minimum. Businesses with more than 500 employees are mandated to pay $11 per hour by April 2015 rising incrementally to $15 by 2017. (Employers providing health benefits get until 2018 to reach $15.) Employers with fewer than 500 employees are given until 2021 to reach $15. From then on, the city’s minimum is indexed to inflation. Restaurants are initially allowed to count tip earnings in hitting the minimum, but that provision is phased out by 2021.
  • Jan 1, 2015 – Automatic cost-of-living increase raises minimum wage to $15.24 in town of SeaTac under voter initiative passed in November 2013.
  • April 2015 – Costco, one of the most successful retailers in the country which is headquartered in Issaquah, Wa., has a starting wage of $11.50 an hour for most entry-level jobs, and an average wage for hourly workers of $21 an hour. Costco operates 468 locations in the US, employing 126,929 workers nationwide.
  • Aug. 20, 2015 – Washington State Supreme Court, rejecting arguments by Alaska Airlines and other employers at SeaTac airport. rules that town ordinance passed in 2013 must apply to 4,700 airport workers and they are entitled to pay raises retroactive to Jan. 1, 2014. But before airport workers can benefit from ruling, Alaska Airlines and other businesses file another appeal. Finally, on Nov. 30, 2015, Supreme Court rejects corporate lawsuit, clearing the way for 4,700 airport workers to receive windfall payment of several thousand dollars apiece in back pay raises.


West Virginia:

  • April 3, 2014 – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signs a bill raising the minimum wage from the federal level of $7.25 an hour to $8 at the start of 2015 and to $8.75 in 2016. The new state minimums give pay raises to 127,000 West Virginians, according to Allison Clements of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.



  • State’s minimum wage matches federal minimum.
  • July 22, 2014 – Milwaukee Common Council adopts a living wage ordinance, raising the minimum wage from $9.51 (the poverty guideline for a family of three) to $10.10 an hour for all city employees and city service contractors. The wage increases to $10.80 an hour on March 1, 2015.



  • 2001 – Through legislative action, Wyoming’s minimum wage is raised to $5.15/hour, a level that still applies to businesses that are exempt from the federal minimum wage. About one-third of Wyoming employees are not covered by the federal law.

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