While many workers are assessing the benefit of the recent tax reform legislation passed by Congress, which goes into effect for filing 2018 taxes in 2019, many are seeing a real benefit through increases in the minimum wage laws across the country.
Starting this month, 4.5 million workers in 18 states and the District of Columbia and 20 municipalities will see increases in their paychecks because of higher minimum wage laws, which will mean more than $5 billion in additional wages, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank.
For workers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, increases are a result of new legislation or ballot measures. For workers in Alaska, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and South Dakota, they will see automatic adjustments for inflation. The new minimum hourly wages range from $7.85 in Missouri to $11.50 in Washington State. Some cities, such as tech hubs Mountainview and Sunnyvale, California, and Seattle, mandate a minimum hourly wage of $15. Later this year, San Francisco, Berkeley and Emeryville, California, will mandate $15 minimum wages, as will New York City starting December 31, 2018.
According to the National Employment Law Project, a majority of states now have laws requiring companies to pay workers more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. NELP says that later in 2018, in addition to the 18 states and 20 cities raising minimum wages this month, three more states and 18 cities will institute more minimum wage increases, bringing the 2018 totals to 21 states and 36 cities.
NELP says that campaigns to raise the wage are underway in at least 17 states and cities, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan and Nevada.
The raises in minimum wage are not a luxury. NELP says cost-of-living data show that in all 50 states, workers will soon need $15 an hour or more to afford the basics. The only question left is when will the federal government take action to raise its current minimum wage standards, which have been in place since 2009.