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New Year to Bring Many New State, City Minimum Wages

NATIONAL REPORT — The new year will usher in pay raises for workers in several cities and states.

In all, the minimum wage is set to increase in 21 states, at least 22 cities, four counties and one region, according to

The majority of those increases will take place on Jan. 1. Wage hikes in Maryland, Oregon and Washington, D.C. go into effect in July. In addition, New York State will increase its minimum pay on Dec. 31, 2016.

The changes range from 5 cents an hour to between $1 and $2 an hour. The biggest minimum wage raises, percentage wise, will be in Arizona (up 24 percent to $10), Maine (up 20 percent to $9) and three Silicon Valley cities (up 20 percent to $12), the news outlet reported.

The federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 — an hourly rate in place since 2009.

As reported, the increases were proposed by politicians in state legislatures and on city councils. In instances where those measures failed, worker advocates petitioned to let voters decide the issue. Such ballot measures have done remarkably well overall, accounting for the majority of increases taking place in 2017, according to The Fairness Project.

In November, voters approved increases in four states: Arizona, Colorado, Washington State and Maine, as CSNews Online previously reported.

The movement to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could face a roadblock at the U.S. Department of Labor. President-elect Donald Trump has selected Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Hardee's and Carl's Jr., as labor secretary. Puzder has been a critic of efforts to hike the minimum wage at the federal level, as well as the Fight for $15.

According to the news outlet, The Employment Policies Institute, a research group backed by the restaurant industry, has also been a critic of the Fight for $15 and the varied push for higher wages within states. 

The group often highlights when a small business closes or cuts staff as a result of a higher state or local minimum wage. And with the 2017 increases on tap, there will be a "mind-boggling patchwork" of minimum wages in New York (14) and California (13), the Institute noted.

However, as the report noted, not all employer groups oppose higher wages for the lowest paid. Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, which is funded primarily by foundations and individual businesses, often notes the potential advantages of a higher minimum, including lower employee turnover and increased productivity.

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