After this week’s elections, the majority in four states voted to raise the minimum wage in their states. Colorado, Maine, and Arizona will raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020 and Washington will raise it to $13.50 by 2020. This will affect 2.2 million workers.
President Obama called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage four years ago but Congress declined. The last time the minimum wage changed was in 2009 when Congress set it to the current $7.25 per hour. This was the last of a three step change passed by Congress in 2007. Prior to that, the minimum wage had been stuck at $5.15 per hour for 10 years. It looks like we are on track to another decade unchanged federal minimum wage.
In the absence of action by Congress to raise the federal wage, states have been raising their own minimum wages for the last three years. However, there are still 21 states whose minimum wage is set at or below the federal rate and millions of workers that do not share in the rest of the country’s prosperity. You can see an interactive map displaying the nation’s wages here.
The Department of Labor supports a federal minimum wage hike and are pleased with the decision of voters and policymakers this week.