Nearly One And A Half Million Workers Will Get A Raise On New Year’s Day


Come January 1, over 1.4 million people — 1,441,000 to be exact — will get a raise thanks to increasing minimum wages in 13 states, according to an analysis by the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

Four states — Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island — passed increases in their minimum wages this year that take effect at the beginning of 2014. The other nine — Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington — will see an increase thanks to state laws that require automatic annual raises tied to the cost of living. California also passed a higher wage of $10 an hour that will take effect later in the year.

At the city level, workers in the small Washington state town of SeaTac will get a $15 wage after a ballot initiative passed in November, and San Francisco and San Jose will both see increases on January 1 thanks to required automatic adjustments indexed to inflation, raising their wages to $10.79 and $10.15, respectively. Those in Washington, D.C. are likely to get one of $11.50 next year as well.

NELP also estimates that more than 1.1 million workers who make just above the minimum will be indirectly impacted by the 13 states’ higher wages as pay scales are revised upward. The increased wages for both those making minimum wage and those just above it will come to nearly a billion dollars, or $978 million. The extra spending that will generate will boost GDP by nearly $620 million.

According to NELP, 21 states will have minimum wages higher than the federal level of $7.25 as of January 1. Higher wages could be on their way across the country, as proposals have been introduced in Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Hampshire. Organizers are also trying to get the issue in front of voters with ballot initiatives in Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Massachusetts, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Washington, D.C.

This flurry of action comes amid stalled efforts at the federal level to boost wages for all of the country’s workers. Democrats introduced a bill to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in March, a level that is now backed by President Obama, but House Republicans unanimously voted it down despite many of them supporting increases under President George W. Bush.

A $10.10 wage would put it back in line with increasing inflation since the 1960s, but to keep pace with increasing worker productivity it would have to be more than $20 an hour. A $10.10 wage would also lift nearly 6 million people out of poverty while boosting GDP by $22.1 billion and supporting the creation of about 85,000 new jobs.