Whether or not to raise the minimum wage has been a fierce debate over the past decade, with supporters claiming that increased wages are necessary in order to make a living. Some demand as much as $15 per hour.
Opponents worry about the impact increased wages will have on employers.
In 2017, the lowest-paid workers in 19 states will see a wage increase. Workers in Arizona will see the largest increase – from $8.05 to $10. This raise will add “nearly 25% to the labor costs of minimum wage employers,” reports 9News.
Workers in Washington and Massachusetts will see increases of $1 or more per hour. California plans to gradually increase its minimum wage over the next few years, hitting the coveted $15 an hour by 2020.
Seven states – Missouri, Alaska, New Jersey, Ohio, Florida, South Dakota, and Montana – have decided to raise the minimum wage by small amounts (ten cents or so) to reflect inflation.
Workers in Connecticut, Arkansas, Vermont, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Hawaii will see pay rises this month, and Oregon and Maryland will see increases by July.
Apart from statewide increases, nearly two dozen cities also voted to increase their minimum wage:
• $15 in Seattle
• $13 in Sunnyvale, CA
• $11 in New York
• $10.68 in Portland, ME
• $10.50 in Sacramento, CA
The federal minimum wage will remain at $7.25.
“The $1.50 increase, I cannot even comprehend or tell you how important this will be,” says New York fast-food worker Alvin Major. “The price of food has gone up. Rent has gone up. Everything has gone up… This will make a difference for so many people.”
Labor unions and other groups that support wage increases have had far more success through ballot measures than through city councils and legislatures.
Right now, supporters are busy collecting signatures to force wage increases in New Jersey, Missouri, and Florida over the next two years.