Starting this month, about 4.3 million workers will receive higher pay in the U.S.
According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), 19 states increased their minimum wages on January 1, 2017. To date, this is the largest group of states ever in one year to raise their minimum wages independently without increasing the federal minimum wage.
Seven of the states, including Alaska, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio and South Dakota, raised their minimum wages due to inflation indexing, while the other 12 states raised wages after legislation and ballot measures.
Low inflation last year contributed to smaller minimum wage increases in Alaska, Florida, Missouri and Ohio. Each state’s minimum wage went up by just 5 cents because of gradual adjustments made to match annual price growth. Ballot measures contributed to the largest minimum wage hikes in two states, Arizona ($1.95 increase) and Washington ($1.53 increase).
EPI data demonstrated that legislative increases would directly benefit a significant portion of the U.S. workforce. Minimum wage increases would instantly impact a percentage of each state’s workforce. States that raised wages the most include Arizona (11.8%), California (10.7%), Washington (10.7%), Massachusetts (9.2%) and Connecticut (7.6%). Overall, the increases would provide more than $4.2 billion in additional wages to many workers in 2017.
The new minimum wage increases follow 2016’s statewide pay changes. On Election Day, four states, including Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington, passed higher minimum wage incentives, which will take effect in 2020. Last year, 14 states also boosted their minimum wages after changing laws and analyzing cost of living expenses. Currently, 29 states and Washington D.C. have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage, which remains static at $7.25 per hour.