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How the minimum wage has changed in your state

  • How the minimum wage has changed in your state

    When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standard Act into law in 1938, the federal minimum wage was 25 cents an hour. Fast forward 80 years and the federal minimum wage has reached $7.25 and created swirls of debate across the country. Twenty-one states launched 2020 with higher minimum wages and President-elect Joe Biden vowed to raise the minimum wage rate to $15 an hour if elected president.

    Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Washington raised their rates due to previously-approved ballot initiatives or approved legislation. Seven states automatically increased their minimum wage rates based on the cost of living.

    The academic debate surrounding the minimum wage attempts to understand whether raising the minimum wage will cause job losses at businesses that employ many people at minimum wage: While some employees may earn more, overall well-being goes down when layoffs occur. A report released by the Congressional Budget Office states raising the minimum wage gradually to $15 by 2025 could cost 1.3 million jobs, while academics at the University of California Berkeley have predicted low effects on job loss and significant progress in combating wealth inequality were the law to pass.

    Stacker took a look at all 50 states plus the District of Columbia to explore the varying pay rates of hourly workers, how they compare to the living wage, and where voters and lawmakers are seeing the minimum wage go in the future.

    Combining data from the Economic Policy Institute’s Minimum Wage Tracker (released Nov. 5, 2020) and the NCSL's website with research from news and trusted sources, we discovered each state’s minimum wage, what has changed in 2020, and what the future looks like for America’s hourly workers. Inflation-adjusted wages were calculated using the CPI calculator.

    Take a tour from the lowest minimum wage of $5.15 in Georgia and Wyoming to the highest rate of $15 being paid to hourly workers in the District of Columbia.

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  • Alabama

    - Minimum wage in 2020: no state-level minimum
    - Minimum wage in 2000: no state-level minimum
    - Minimum wage in 1980: no state-level minimum

    Alabama is one of five states that have not adopted a state minimum wage. The other states are Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Birmingham workers have been locked in battle with state legislators since 2016, when the city voted in favor of a wage increase that was never put into practice; soon after, the legislature passed a law restricting cities and towns in Alabama from setting their own minimum wage.

  • Alaska

    - Minimum wage in 2020: $10.19
    - Minimum wage in 2000: $5.65 ($8.70 inflation-adjusted)
    - Minimum wage in 1980: $3.60 ($12.06 inflation-adjusted)

    Alaska's minimum wage rose on Jan. 1, 2019, to $9.89 an hour, after rising from $9.84 in 2018, because of a 2014 law that increases the minimum wage with inflation. According to state law, public school bus drivers are paid at least twice the minimum wage, and the Alaska Permanent Fund sends yearly payments to all Alaskans, regardless of income.

  • Arizona

    - Minimum wage in 2020: $12
    - Minimum wage in 2000: no state-level minimum
    - Minimum wage in 1980: no state-level minimum

    Arizona’s minimum wage of $12 an hour exceeds the federal minimum wage by over $4, but still is 1 cent below what is considered a living wage for an individual. As recently as 2016, the minimum wage was $8.05.

  • Arkansas

    - Minimum wage in 2020: $10
    - Minimum wage in 2000: $5.15 ($7.93 inflation-adjusted)
    - Minimum wage in 1980: $2.55 ($8.54 inflation-adjusted)

    The minimum wage in Arkansas is $2.75 over the federal minimum wage, as well as higher than its surrounding states of Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky. In the 2018 midterm elections, voters approved a measure to increase the state’s minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2021, a 29% increase over three years.

  • California

    - Minimum wage in 2020: $13
    - Minimum wage in 2000: $5.75 ($8.86 inflation-adjusted)
    - Minimum wage in 1980: $2.90 ($9.72 inflation-adjusted)

    California’s minimum wage will continue to rise a dollar a year until it reaches $15 for large employers in 2022. Employers with 25 employees or fewer will see the hike to $15 an hour in 2023. The current wage is almost $2 under the living wage for an adult in the Golden State.

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  • Colorado

    - Minimum wage in 2020: $12
    - Minimum wage in 2000: $5.15 ($7.93 inflation-adjusted)
    - Minimum wage in 1980: $1.90 ($6.37 inflation-adjusted)

    Colorado is one of 14 states that increased its rates because of legislation or ballot initiatives. Over 2,000 employees of Amazon are slated to make $15 an hour, over 50% more than the minimum wage.

  • Connecticut

    - Minimum wage in 2020: $12
    - Minimum wage in 2000: $6.15 ($9.47 inflation-adjusted)
    - Minimum wage in 1980: $3.12 ($10.45 inflation-adjusted)

    The minimum wage in Connecticut is $4.75 higher than the federally-mandated rate of $7.25. Gov. Ned Lamont in May 2019 signed a bill to increase the minimum wage to $15 incrementally between 2019 and 2023. The first increase to $11 occurred in October 2019. The latest increase to $12 an hour went into effect in January 2020.

  • Delaware

    - Minimum wage in 2020: $9.25
    - Minimum wage in 2000: $5.65 ($8.70 inflation-adjusted)
    - Minimum wage in 1980: $2 ($6.70 inflation-adjusted)

    In July 2018, Delaware joined the states in increasing their minimum wages. The minimum wage was slated to increase incrementally over four years, starting with $8.75 and ending at $10.25 an hour. The increase is still well below the living wage of $12.78 for an individual.

  • Florida

    - Minimum wage in 2020: $8.56
    - Minimum wage in 2000: no state-level minimum
    - Minimum wage in 1980: no state-level minimum

    Florida’s minimum wage increased by 21 cents to $8.46 on Jan. 1, 2019. The 2.5% increase is $3.93 under the living wage for a Florida resident. In the recent election, voters in Florida passed an amendment to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next few years.

  • Georgia

    - Minimum wage in 2020: $5.15
    - Minimum wage in 2000: $3.25 ($5.01 inflation-adjusted)
    - Minimum wage in 1980: $1.25 ($4.19 inflation-adjusted)

    Georgia’s state minimum wage is over $2 under the federally-mandated rate of $7.25 an hour, the lowest minimum wage in the country, along with Wyoming. The two states would benefit the most if the United States moves closer to the proposed increase to $15 an hour.

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