Workers protesting low wages with a sign saying "Hard work deserves fair pay!"

13 States Raised Their Minimum Wage: Is Yours One of Them?

The minimum wage is one of the strongest worker protections in the United States–but in recent decades it has lagged behind the cost of living, losing effectiveness. Thankfully, there is a bright spot on the horizon, as renewed momentum builds in support of raising both the federal minimum wage and the minimum wage in each state. On January 1st, 13 states across the country raised their minimum wage, giving a raise to 2.5 million Americans. Four states passed new laws that went into effect on January 1st and nine raised the minimum wage to adjust it according to increases in living costs:

  • Giving a raise to 7.1% of its workforce, Connecticut’s state legislature raised its minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $8.70–and will raise it again to $9.00 on January 1st next year, as part of the same law.
  • Despite opposition from Governor Chris Christie, New Jersey raised its minimum wage to $8.25 an hour from the federal minimum of $7.25. Additionally, it also amended the state constitution to increase the minimum wage annually to keep up with inflation.
  • As part of the state budget passed last year, workers in New York will see three gradual increases in its minimum wage over the next three years. Last week, it was raised to $8, and will increase to $8.75 in 2015 and to $9.00 in 2016.
  • For the second consecutive year, Rhode Island raised its minimum wage. Last year the state raised it 35 cents to $7.75 and on January 1st it raised it another 25 cents to $8.00 an hour.
  • Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington all raised their minimum wages on January 1st to adjust for increases in the cost of living. Their wages now range from $7.50 in Missouri to $9.32 in Washington state (the highest state minimum wage.)

State Minimum Wage Honorable Mention: California will raise its minimum wage from $8.00 to $9.00 this July and as part of the same law, the minimum wage will rise to $10.00 in January 2016. The $10.00 minimum wage will be the highest state minimum wage in the country unless another state passes a large increase before 2016.

Jewish Tradition emphasizes the importance of a worker’s wages.  In Deuteronomy 24:14-15, it is written “You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer… but you must pay him his wages on the same day, for he is needy and urgently depends on it.”

While state-by-state minimum wage increases are crucially important for workers who rely on low-wage jobs, a federal minimum wage set at $10.10 would be higher than all state minimum wages and give a raise to 30 million Americans (over ten times the number affected last Wednesday.) Take a minute to urge your Members of Congress to support raising the federal minimum wage.

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Howie Levine

About Howie Levine

Howie Levine is an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. He is originally from St. Paul, MN where he is a member of Mt. Zion Temple. He recently graduated from Tufts University.

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