Millions Of Workers Will Get A Raise On New Years Day


Fast food workers protest low wages in Chicago

On January 1, 20 states will raise their minimum wages, while one — New York — will increase its wage on Wednesday.

That means that all told, 3.1 million American workers will ring in the New Year with a pay raise.


CREDIT: Dylan Petrohilos/ThinkProgress

Eleven states and Washington, DC are increasing their minimum wages thanks to changes in the law either by legislation passed by lawmakers or referenda passed by voters. Nine others will see an automatic increase because their wages are indexed to rise with inflation. Currently, 15 states have automatic increases built into their minimum wages, unlike the federal law.

The January 1 raises range from a 12-cent boost in Florida, whose minimum wage will increase to $8.05, to a $1.25 increase in South Dakota, bringing its wage to $8.50.

The increases in the New Year will mean that in 2015, the majority of states — 29 and Washington, DC — will have minimum wages set above the federal level of $7.25 an hour. They will also mean that 60 percent of all American workers will live in a state with a higher minimum wage.

Another half million workers will get a raise later in 2015, when legislation passed in Delaware and Minnesota to raise their wages goes into effect.

Minimum wage increases are having a big impact, even if action at the federal level has stalled multiple times. Walmart, the country’s largest employer and one notorious for low pay, will have to raise its wages in about a third of its stores thanks to the minimum wage increases at the start of the year. Higher wages also put more money into low-wage workers’ pockets, alleviating poverty while boosting economic growth when they go out and spend it.

And while opponents of a higher wage often claim that it will kill jobs, that hasn’t played out in reality. The states that raised their wages on January 1 of 2014 had experienced faster job growth than those that didn’t as of midyear. Washington has had the highest minimum wage for 15 years and has seen steady, above-average job growth. Overall, economists who studied state-level wage increases over two decades didn’t find any evidence that they impacted jobs.