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Movin' on up: Minimum wage goes up in 13 states with New Year

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 29th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Minimum wage workers in 13 states and four cities will see higher paychecks come the New Year on January 1st. For those laboring in fast food and retail, most of the increases amount to less than 15 cents per hour. On the bright side, workers in places like New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island will see far bigger raises.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - New Jersey residents voted to raise the state's minimum wage by $1 to $8.25 per hour earlier this year. Lawmakers voted to hike the wage by between 25 cents and 75 cents per hour, to $8.70 in Connecticut and $8 in Rhode Island and New York.

Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington minimum wage earners will all see a higher wage floor due to annual cost of living adjustments.

The increases will boost the incomes of 2.5 million low-wage American workers next year, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Nineteen states currently have minimum wages set higher than the federal level of $7.25 per hour.

Voters recently approved a raise to $15 per hour for many workers in SeaTac, a tiny town centered around the Seattle-Tacoma airport in Washington. However, a judge recently ruled that parts of the measure were not valid. The city could impose the minimum wage for some of the affected workers, the judge said, though not all.

The incentive for increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour could soon move beyond the one small town. Seattle's mayor-elect has said he plans to also raise the city's minimum wage to $15. The State of Washington currently has the highest state minimum wage at $9.19 per hour. Minimum  wage earners in San Francisco, San Jose and Albuquerque will also see their wages increase.

Later in 2014, several other locales, including two counties in Maryland and Washington D.C., will raise their minimum wages. California is set to raise its minimum wage to $9 in July.

Fast food and retail workers have been staging protests and walking off work for more than a year, calling for better pay and more hours. These piecemeal increases come at a time when there is a widespread national debate over low wages and income inequality.

Fast food workers nationally earn an average of about $9 per hour. In September, Bill Simon, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart U.S., said that less than half of the company's U.S. employees make more than $25,000 per year.



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