In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Obama is expected to bring up not just an executive order to raise the minimum wage for workers employed through federal contracts, but his support for bringing the federal wage up to $10.10 an hour from its current level of $7.25.
But many cities and states aren’t waiting for action at the federal level to give their workers a raise. There has been a flurry of legislative efforts across the states to increase incomes for the lowest paid workers:
Eighteen cities and states are looking at wages over $10 an hour, with the greatest number focused on $10.10 an hour. That wage would not just put it in line with where it would be if it had kept up with inflation since the 1960s. It would also lift nearly 5 million people out of poverty and boost economic growth by more than $22 billion.
Conservatives often oppose an increase in the minimum wage because they say it would hurt jobs. But recent studies found that increasing the minimum wage, even during times of high unemployment, doesn’t have a negative impact on job growth. States that raised their wages even had slightly above average job growth. Another review of the research found that any negative effects on employment from raising minimum wages were “too modest to have meaningful consequences for public policy.” A higher wage can even have benefits for businesses, such as increasing demand, reducing turnover, and encouraging employees to work harder.