With the federal minimum wage at the same level for nearly a decade, many states, cities, and counties have passed laws to set the local minimum wage laws at a higher level than the federal standard. The last time the federal government acted to increase the national wage floor was the passage of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. The law increased the national minimum hourly wage from $5.15 to $7.25, with the last increase taking place in July 2009.
In some cases, lawmakers implemented rules to tie the minimum wage set by law to local inflation. In other cases, voters supported ballot measures to raise minimum wages incrementally until a specific target was hit. High-cost cities like Seattle have taken the lead in implementing these increases, while lawmakers in some states, like Texas, are comfortable letting Washington D.C. set the minimum wage.
Meanwhile, the debate over the minimum wage rages on and conjures all-too-familiar arguments that are repeated year after year. Those in favor of higher minimum wage point to the ever increasing wage inequality and that the current wage is often insufficient as a living wage. Those who oppose a higher minimum wage believe that a minimum wage set by law rather than market forces can harm low-income workers as well as businesses as hiring decisions could be forced by payroll expenses more than need.
With no national consensus, the result has been a patchwork of different local minimum wage laws and annual minimum wage adjustments spread out across dozens of jurisdictions.
As of the start of 2019, 19 states, 21 cities, and one county have implemented increases to their local minimum hourly wages.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed a report from the National Employment Law Project outlining the dozens of states, cities, and counties that raised local minimum hourly wages as of Jan. 1. We also looked at state and municipal documents to determine how these jurisdictions raised their hourly wage floors, such as by routine inflation-indexed wage hikes or through one-time incremental raises mandated by voter ballot initiatives or by lawmakers.