Minimum wage increases took place Monday morning in the District of Columbia, Oregon, Maryland and 15 cities and counties across the United States. That brings to 29 the total number of states to have raised minimum wages.
The federal minimum wage was set at $7.25 an hour in 2009 and has not been changed since. That inaction on the part of Congress has led to many state and local governments to act on their own.
The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) reported that in Oregon, the minimum wage rose from $10.25 to $10.75, from $10.00 to $10.50 in rural areas and from $11.25 to $12.00 an hour inside the Portland Urban Growth Boundary. In Maryland, the minimum wage rose to $10.10, and in the District of Columbia, it rose to $13.25.
Of the 15 cities and counties where wage increases went into effect this morning, 11 are in California. The city of Emeryville in the East Bay Area now has the highest minimum wage in the United States at $15.69 an hour for businesses with at least 56 employees. The state of Washington raised its state minimum wage to $11.50 an hour beginning January 1, 2018, and that remains the highest state-mandated rate in the country.
EPI economic analyst Janelle Jones said:
It’s remarkable and sad that someone in San Francisco and someone in Birmingham [Alabama] could be doing the exact same job, but the worker in San Francisco will be paid more than double what the worker in Alabama is paid. There’s no economic justification for that. Not only are many states not moving forward, in some recent cases preemption laws have forced cities to roll back their minimum wage laws.
Both Birmingham, Alabama, and Johnson County, Iowa, had raised their minimum wage rates, but the state legislatures in those states nullified those increases by preempting local governments from establishing local minimum wage rates.
EPI maintains a minimum wage tracker showing minimum wage rates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.