Over the past several days, there has been a rise in the number of marches and demonstrations across much of the country directed toward the need for the government to increase the minimum wage. The protestors are seeking a rise to $15 in many cases, which is more than double the U.S. level of $7.25 an hour. While many states have lifted their minimum wage in the past year, two states have minimums well below the national average.
Georgia and Wyoming have minimum wages of $5.15. By law, some of the workers in these states must be paid above this level. Some parts of the workforce in the two states have their wages controlled under The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor. Those exempt from the provision of the act include farm workers who work less than a certain number of hours, some people who provide childcare, people who work at some “seasonal amusement or recreational establishments,” some fisherman and people who work at small newspapers. Some groups of disabled workers and people who work at nonprofits also may be exempt.
Actions by some legislatures have mandated an increase in the minimum wage in many states, which makes the pay levels in Georgia and Wyoming even more unusual. At the start of the year, the minimum wage rose in 20 states and some cities. There are 41 places that raised the wage for the start of 2019. The highest among these are Massachusetts and Washington, where the bases have gone to $12.
Many of the states that have raised their minimum wages have done so because the federal level has not risen in nearly 10 years. The law that sets the federal minimum wage was last changed on July 24, 2009. Many analysts have issued research that Americans paid only $7.25 an hour almost certainly live below the poverty level. That is among the reasons protests over the minimum wage have grown. These actions might also lift the pay of the lowest paying jobs in America.
Despite the widespread charge in state and local laws that have increased minimum wages in many places, there are few signs that similar actions will take place in Georgia and Wyoming soon. The two states will remain outliers that are more and more out of step with increases across much of the United States.