With decades-high inflation eroding incomes, Washington state’s Department of Labor and Industries recently announced plans to hike the minimum wage. The state – home to some of the most worker-friendly policies in the country – has tied its minimum wage to the consumer price index, which climbed 8.7% in the past year as inflation soared. (Here is a look at the worst states for working people.)
Washington’s current minimum wage of $14.49 an hour is already the highest of any state – and it is set to rise by $1.25 in January 2023 to $15.74. The increase will come as a welcome relief for many workers in the state, but it still falls short of offering those in minimum wage jobs the ability to achieve a basic standard of living – particularly those with families to support.
According to a study published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a working adult in Washington state would need an hourly wage of $37.66 to support a family of four. The mismatch between the income working families need and what the law requires employers to pay is far more pronounced in most states.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the minimum wage in every state and the hourly wage necessary to support a family of four, based on MIT’s Living Wage Calculator. States are ranked by minimum wage and ordered alphabetically if there are ties.
The federal minimum wage – and the minimum wage in 20 states – stands at $7.25 an hour. The minimum wage is $13 per hour or higher In just over half a dozen states, which are located exclusively in the Northeast and along the West Coast.
While a higher minimum wage can raise people out of poverty and offer a higher standard of living, some economists argue it also comes with some drawbacks.
If employers are forced to pay their workers more, they may not be able to afford to hire as many workers, which could result in job losses and, theoretically, drive up unemployment. In four of the five states with the highest minimum wages, the August unemployment rate exceeded the 3.7% national rate. Meanwhile, 14 of the 20 states with a minimum wage of $7.25 (federal minimum wage) have a lower than average jobless rate. (Here is a look at the states where job openings are disappearing right now.)
Click here to see the states with the highest minimum wage.
Click here to read our detailed methodology.
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