The federal minimum wage has not changed since the federal government raised it to $7.25 in 2009. However, states, counties and cities can establish their own minimum wage, and beginning in January 2022, the minimum wage will increase for several states and regions across the nation.
Workers in 20 states received a raise on Jan, 1, 2022. In addition, New York State increased its minimum wage on Dec. 31, 2021. Two of the states, as well as more than 30 local governments, will offer minimum wages of $15 or higher. The two states are California, which raises the minimum state-wide, and New York, which has a $15 minimum wage for fast-food workers and all workers in New York City.
In some cases, governments like New York’s are increasing pay to get to a $15 per hour threshold in coming years. In others, previously approved legislation, ballot initiatives or automatic cost-of-living adjustments based on inflation have caused the changes. Since January 2014, the effective minimum wage has gone up in 30 states and in Washington, D.C., according to the Economic Policy Institute.
- Arizona: up 65 cents from $12.15 to $12.80
- California: up $1 from $14 to $15
- Colorado: up 24 cents from $12.32 to $12.56
- Delaware: up $1.25 from $9.25 to $10.50
- Illinois: up $1 from $11 to $12
- Maine: up 60 cents from $12.15 to $12.75
- Maryland: up 75 cents from $11.75 to $12.50
- Massachusetts: up 75 cents from $13.50 to $14.25
- Michigan: up 22 cents from $9.65 to $9.87
- Minnesota: up 25 cents from $10.08 to $10.33
- Missouri: up 85 cents from $10.30 to $11.15
- Montana: up 45 cents from $8.75 to $9.20
- New Jersey: up $1 from $12 to $13
- New Mexico: up $1 from $10.50 to $11.50
- New York: up 70 cents from $12.50 to $13.20
- Ohio: up 50 cents from $8.80 to $9.30
- Rhode Island: up 75 cents from $11.50 to $12.25
- South Dakota: up 50 cents from $9.45 to $9.95
- Vermont: up 80 cents from $11.75 to $12.55
- Virginia: up $1.50 from $9.50 to $11
- Washington: up 80 cents from $13.69 to $14.49
Additionally, counties and cities are implementing minimum wage increases. In total, 81 jurisdictions will have a new minimum wage requirement by the end of 2022. Of these, 33 will match or exceed $15 per hour, according to a report from the National Employment Law Project. The counties and cities include places like Chicago; Denver; Minneapolis; Flagstaff, Arizona; and Montgomery County, Maryland.
It is important to note that many states have lower minimum wages for tipped workers. Some also make a distinction between large and small employers. For example, in California, businesses defined as small employers (25 or fewer employees) may pay a $14 minimum wage starting Jan. 1.
Although President Joe Biden and some progressive Democrats advocated for a $15 federal minimum wage early in 2021, the Senate parliamentarian ruled against the increase in the COVID-19 relief bill. An amendment introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders in March was shot down as well. However, Biden later used an executive order to raise the minimum wage of federal contract workers to $15 per hour,
Several states have not raised their minimum wage for more than a decade.
“Roughly half of those states are located in the U.S. South, where a majority of Black workers live, and where, not surprisingly, they experience higher levels of poverty and downward economic mobility,” NELP notes.
The following 20 states have not adopted minimum wages above the federal wage:
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
In addition, many stores and restaurants are offering higher wages and bonuses to attract more employees, regardless of state and federal minimum wage requirements.