Raising Minimum Wage

In 2007, the federal minimum wage was raised to $7.25 an hour. However, many states started to raise their minimum wage in 2009.  Currently California and Massachusetts have the highest minimum wage with $10 dollars an hour.  Close behind is Alaska with $9.75 an hour, and Vermont, Connecticut, and Rhode Island with $9.60 an hour.  States like Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee don’t have a set state minimum wage.  A little more than half of the states have minimum wages higher than the federal minimum.  Virginia is one of many states with the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

In April of 2016, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law saying that the minimum wage will be increased to $15/hour by Jan. 1, 2022 for employers with 26 or more employees.  And for employer with 25 or less employees the minimum wage will be raised to $15/hour by the following year (Jan. 1, 2023.)  New York became the second state to pass a law that should raise their minimum wage to $15/hour by the end of 2018 for the city and by the end of 2022 for the rest of the state.

Many people are very happy about raising the minimum wage, but small business are expressing their concern.  Over 90% of the 22,000 small businesses in California are against this.  Raising the minimum wage will most likely lead to layoffs and price hikes or bankruptcy of small businesses. According to a poll taken by NBC Washington News, 26% of people do not support raising minimum wage, 33% say they do support it but it should only go up to $11.50 an hour and another 41% say it should be $15+.

In 2012, more than 75 million workers were paid on an hourly basis and of those, 3.6 million were minimum wage workers. Most of these people work in retail or at hotels and fast-food restaurants.  An employee who works a normal 40-hour week at the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour would earn $15,080 per year. This income would leave a two-person household (only one person working) just below the federal poverty threshold of $15,130.  Two thirds of minimum wage workers earn a raise within the first year of work. However, 70% of minimum wage workers work less than 35 hours a week making the yearly salary significantly lower.

Many believe that raising the minimum wage is long overdue, yet it is still not a certainty whether states will decide to do so.  An incentive to raise it would be the higher the minimum wage, the more people come off of public assistance.