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Five Million People Got a Much-Needed Raise for the New Year

Thanks to increases in the minimum wage across the United States, low-wage workers will collectively bring in $5.4 billion more in 2019 than they did in 2018.

by FREE Staff
Jan 1 2019, 5:01am

Workers in New York City march for a $15 minimum wage in 2017. Photo by Erik Mcgregor / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

For all the talk of a booming economy, many workers in the US still struggle to make ends meet in minimum-wage jobs. The federal minimum wage has been stuck in neutral since 2009 at a mere $7.25 an hour, with tipped workers earning just $2.13 an hour. Since that wage is not adjusted for inflation, its buying power has been steadily falling for decades, making it well below a living wage in most parts of the country.

The 2018 federal poverty level was $12,120 a year for a single person. That's not the same thing as a living wage, however, which varies depending on the cost of living in your area and takes into account things like housing, transportation, and health care prices. For example, a worker would need to earn around $18 an hour on average—more than twice the current federal minimum wage—to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment today, according to a 2018 report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

To help bring minimum wage more closely in line with the average cost of living, dozens of states and cities have independently increased their minimum wage to as much as $16 starting on January 1, 2019. To get a better idea of which minimum wage workers are getting a raise for new year (either on Dec. 31, 2018 or Jan. 1, 2019), we pulled data both from the Economic Policy Institute's minimum wage tracker as well as directly from state and local websites.

The Economic Policy Institute estimates that the state-wide increases alone will result in $5.4 billion in wage increases for five billion workers in 2019. While some increases are small adjustments for inflation, as in Alaska, Florida, and Vermont, others are big pay bumps resulting from ballot measures and legislation. Minimum wage workers in New York City and Richmond, San Mateo, and Santa Clara, California will see the biggest increases, going from $13 to $15 an hour for a 15 percent pay bump. SeaTac, Washington currently has the highest minimum wage in the country of $16.09 an hour.

(Several other places are raising their minimum wage later in the year, including Michigan. Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., and are not included in our list below.)

Here are 44 places across the country where minimum-wage workers are getting a raise for New Year's.

Alaska

$9.89 (up from 9.84 in 2018)

Arizona

$11 (up from $10.50)

Arkansas

$9.25 (up from $8.50)

California

$12 (up from $11) for large employers and $11 (up from $10.50) for small employers, with 24 cities already mandating higher minimum wages and the ones below raising wages on Jan. 1, 2019:

Cupertino: $13.50 (up from $12.00)
El Cerrito: $15 (up from $13.60)
Emeryville: $15 (up from 13.50)
Los Altos: $15 (up from $13.50)
Los Angeles: $14.25 (up from $13.25)
Oakland: $13.80 (up from $13.23)
Palo Alto: $15 (up from $13.50)
Pasadena: $14.25 (up from $13.25)
Redwood City: $13.50 (up from $11)
Richmond: $15 (up from $13)
San Diego: $12 (up from $11.50)
San Jose: $15 (up from 13.50)
San Mateo: $15 (up from $13.50)
Santa Clara: $15 (up from $13)
Sunnyvale: $15.65 (up from $15)

Colorado

$11.10: (up from $10.20)

Delaware

$8.75 (up from $8.25) on Jan. 1, then $9.25 on Oct. 1. Workers 14 to 17 and workers in the first 90 days on the job will not get any raise until Oct. 1, when it will be raised to $8.75.

Florida

$8.46 (up from $8.25)

Maine

$11 (up from $10)

Massachusetts

$12 (up from $11)

Minnesota

The state has four wage tiers, all of which will increase on Jan. 1:

Large-employer wage: $9.86 (up from $9.65)
Small-employer wage: $8.04 (up from $7.87)
90-day training wage (under 20 years old): $8.04 (up from $7.87)
Youth wage (under 18 years of age): $8.04 (up from $7.87)

Missouri

$8.60 (up from $7.85)

Montana

$8.50 (up from $8.30)

New Mexico

These cities are raising their minimum wage on Jan. 1:

Albuquerque: $9.20 (up from $8.95)
Bernalillo County: $9.05 (up from $8.85)
Las Cruces: $10.10 (up from $9.20)

New Jersey

$8.85 (up from $8.60)

New York

The state minimum wage is increasing to $11.10 (up from $10.40). Four places in the state have bigger increases:

New York City: $15 (up from $13) for large employers, $13.50 (up from $12) for small employers
Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties: $12 (up from $11)

Ohio

$8.55 (up from $8.30)

Rhode Island

$10.50 (up from $10.10)

South Dakota

$9.10 (up from $8.85)

Vermont

$10.78 (up from $10.50)

Washington

The state minimum wage is increasing to $12 (up from $11.50), but some cities are raising wages even more:

Seattle: $16 (from from $15.45) for large employers, $15 (up from $14) for small employers
SeaTac: $16.09 (up from $15.64)
Tacoma: $12.35 (up from $12)

Update: This story was updated on January 10, 2019 with additional minimum wage increases.