Despite the Stagnant Federal Minimum Wage, Millions of Workers Will Earn More in 2019


In 2000, I was paid $6.25 for every hour I spent inside a still-warm popcorn popper attacking grease splotches with a bottle of solvent and a sponge behind the concession counter at an AMC Theater in a Louisiana town you’ve never heard of. Eighteen years later, whoever is currently scrubbing that horrible popper may only be earning one dollar more an hour than I did despite soaring costs of living.

But in 2019, 20 states and 21 cities are taking steps to raise the minimum wage, even as the federal minimum remains a preposterously low $7.25 an hour, and for workers who earn tips, the minimum is an abysmal $2.13 an hour.

According to NBC News, states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, and Washington State are set raise the minimum wage to between $12 and $15 an hour.

On December 27, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) released a report stating that, along with those states, “in 13 cities and counties, the minimum wage will reach or exceed $15 an hour.”

But while the wage increases are a good start, workers in more expensive states, like California, probably need closer to $20 an hour for a true living wage, Paul Sonn, state program policy director at NELP, told NBC.

“Fifteen dollars an hour has become the new minimum wage, meaning that that’s to afford the basics,” Sonn said. “It’s just a start. Those with children and in expensive states need even more.”

Here are all the states increasing the minimum wage in 2019: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington and Vermont.

NELP estimates that 17 million workers will see wage increases in the new year.

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