Twenty-One States To See Higher Minimum Wage This Year

Minimum wage laws have been a major political issue recently, with some proponents calling for increases to as much as $15 per hour whole opponents point to the potential impact of higher labor costs on the businesses—including foodservice—that employ the most minimum wage workers.

Legislatures in 21 states are slated to put minimum wage increases into effect at some point during the coming year.

Some wage boosts are more significant than others. Arizona will see the biggest boost, with a rise of $1.95 per hour adding nearly 25% to the labor costs of minimum wage employers. Boosts of $1 or more per hour will also take place in Massachusetts and Washington State.

On the other hand, four states—Alaska, Florida, Missouri, and Ohio—are raising their minimum wages by just $0.05 per hour, while two more—Montana and South Dakota—are seeing just a $0.10-per-hour boost. New Jersey splits the difference with a $0.06-per-hour boost. These increases all have ties to changes in the rate of inflation, with most states choosing to link their minimum wages to rises in one of the Consumer Price Index data series.

Many states are in the process of multiyear increases to the minimum wage. Arizona’s big bump is just the first in a series that will push the wage to $12 per hour by 2020. California has even more ambitious plans, with annual increases of $0.50 next year to be followed by $1 per hour raises in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022, bringing the state to the $15 mark. New York State's $0.70 per hour move is just the first in a series of five hikes that will lift minimum wages there to $12.50 per hour.

There is no unity among states on the minimum wage. Five states have no laws about it at all, relying on the federal minimum wage to cover their workers. Another 15 states either have outdated minimum wage laws that are less than the current federal threshold of $7.25 per hour, or match the federal law exactly. In those areas, it's likely to take federal legislation to move the needle for minimum wage workers. 

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