New Year Brings Wage Hikes in 21 States

NATIONAL REPORT — For minimum wage workers in 20 states, Jan. 1 will bring a boost to their paychecks. 

According to CBS, after the new wages go into effect, 29 states and Washington, D.C., will have minimum wages higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Washington state's new minimum wage $9.47 per hour will be the highest in the nation.

The increases in nine states — Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio and Oregon — are due to annual adjustments required by state law.

Voters in four states (Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota) approved ballot measures in 2014 to increase the minimum wage, while legislators in seven others (Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia), gave the thumbs' up to the hike. Additionally, legislators in New York approved a wage increase that will go into effect on Wednesday.

Those wage increases should translate into more than $838 million in new economic growth, according to the Economic Policy Institute, as workers spend more money.

Delaware and Minnesota are slated to increase their respective minimum wages in mid-2015. Once those states are accounted for, the higher minimum wages next year should account for more than $1 billion in economic growth, CBS reported.

Despite the increases at the state level, the federal minimum wage will remain at its current $7.25 per hour. Groups like the National Employment Law Project (NELP) are pushing Congress to raise the federal minimum wage.

"The wage crisis is a national crisis, and one that Congress would wisely address by taking a page from the books of states and localities," NELP Executive Director Christine Owens said in a statement. "Throughout the country, voters and local governments have heeded the public's demand for higher wages. Now it's time for Congress to do the same, and give workers across the nation the pay raise they need and have earned."

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