While the retail-worker strikes that took place across the U.S. in 2013 did not spur Congress to hike the minimum wage, numerous states are inching the minimum wage upward, though far short of the $15 workers had been demanding, USA Today reported.
The minimum wage is set to rise in 13 states this week, with 11 states and Washington, D.C., likely to consider increases in 2014, according to the National Employment Law Project. Approval is likely in more than half of the 11, NELP policy analyst Jack Temple told USA Today.
The move comes as concerns mount about the disproportionate spread of low-wage jobs in the U.S. economy, resulting in millions of financially strained workers and slow economic growth.
On Jan. 1, state minimum wages will be higher than the federal requirement of $7.25 an hour in 21 states, up from 18 two years ago. Temple expects another nine states to also lift their minimum wage above the federal minimum by the end of 2014, marking the first time minimum pay in most states will be above the federal level, USA Today reported.
Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island legislatures voted to raise the minimum hourly wage by as much as $1, to $8 to $8.70, by Wednesday. In California, a $1 increase to $9 is scheduled July 1. Smaller automatic increases tied to inflation will take effect in nine other states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
Meanwhile, states such as Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, Minnesota and South Dakota plan to weigh minimum-wage hikes next year through legislation or ballot initiatives.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 3.6 million hourly paid workers received wages at or below the federal minimum in 2012 — almost 5% of all employees on hourly pay schedules.
President Obama recently said he supports legislation in Congress that would lift the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in three steps over two years and then index it to inflation. But the measure faces an uphill battle in Congress. Those for a minimum-wage hikes note that low-wage jobs have dominated payroll growth in the four-year-old recovery, and increases over the past four decades have not kept pace with inflation. Meanwhile opponents argue the increases would raise employer expenses and will lead to layoffs.
On Jan. 1, the minimum wage in 13 states will increase to these amounts.
State New minimum wage
New Jersey $8.25
New York $8.00
Rhode Island $8.00