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Millions of American workers are getting a small raise on Jan. 1

The boosts will be from legislation, ballot measures, or cost-of-living increases built into existing laws.

by Alex Lubben
Dec 31 2017, 2:29pm

2018 will bring a modest pay bump for about 4.5 million American workers, thanks to minimum-wage increases across the country.

Eighteen states are bumping up their minimum wage this week, which the Economic Policy Institute estimates will result in $5 billion more per year in workers’ pockets. Twenty cities will raise their minimum wage, too, according to the National Employment Law Project. In 10 of these states, the uptick in the wage is due to either new legislation passing or ballot measures that voters approved. In the other eight, workers are getting raises thanks to automatic cost-of-living increases built into the existing minimum wage laws.

Mainers will see the biggest bump in the salary for their lowest earners, with the minimum wage in their state going from $9 to $10. In Michigan, workers will see their hourly wage rise 35 cents, and Alaskans are getting the smallest increase, up just 4 cents to $9.84.

Some states are introducing regional upticks in the wage floor. In New York state, workers outside New York City will see their wages rise less than those in the city -- fast-food workers will see their wages rise to $13.50 if they’re in New York City, and to $11.75 in the rest of the state. Some states, like Washington, are scaling the minimum wage by company size. Employers with 500 or more workers will have to pay at least $15 per hour, while companies with fewer than 500 workers can pay just $14 per hour.

The $15-per-hour minimum wage is catching on in Silicon Valley. Sunnyvale and Mountainview, capitals of the tech world, will be paying their workers at least $15 an hour starting Jan. 1, with San Francisco, Berkeley, and Emeryville raising the wage to $15 later in the year.

New Jersey Democratic Governor-elect Phil Murphy, who’ll take his post in 2018, campaigned on a $15-perhour minimum wage for the state, and there’s political momentum behind a $15 minimum wage in several other states. Rise Up Massachusetts, a coalition of religious and labor organizations, collected more than double the number of signatures needed to put a $15 minimum wage measure on their state’s ballot.

Historically, though, the increases on January 1 aren’t unprecedented. In 2017, 21 states raised their minimum wage, and the wage floor is being raised only nominally in a number of the states seeing increases in the new year.

Federally, the minimum wage has stood at $7.25 an hour since 2009. Former President Barack Obama sought, unsuccessfully, to raise it, and with Republicans in control in Congress and the White House, an increase in the federal minimum wage is unlikely. So states have taken the matter into their own hands.

While the economy has been performing well, wage earners aren’t reaping many of the benefits. In fact, wages have been stagnant in the U.S. since about the 1970s, rising only 0.2 percent per year between 1972 and 2017 if you adjust for inflation, according to a report from the Brookings Institute.

Here’s a state-by-state breakdown:

Maine will raising its minimum wage $1, to $10

  • Maine will raising its minimum wage $1, to $10
  • Vermont will raise its minimum wage $.50 to $10.50
  • Rhode Island will raise its minimum wage $.50 to $10.10
  • New York will raise its minimum wage $.70 to $10.40
  • New Jersey will raise its minimum wage $.0.16 to $8.60
  • Florida will raise its minimum wage $0.15 to $8.25
  • Michigan will raise its wage $.35 to $9.25
  • Ohio will raise its minimum wage $.15 to $8.30
  • Minnesota will raise its minimum wage $.15 to $9.65
  • Missouri will raise its minimum wage $.15 to $7.85
  • South Dakota will raise its minimum wage $.20 to $8.85
  • Montana will raise its minimum wage $.15 to $8.30
  • Colorado will raise its minimum wage $.90 to $10.20
  • Washington will raise its minimum wage $.50 to $11.50
  • California will raise its minimum wage $.50 to $11
  • Arizona will raise its minimum wage $.50 to $10.50
  • Alaska will raise its minimum wage $.04 to $9.84
  • Hawaii will raise its minimum wage $.85 to $10.10