- Florida increased its minimum wage from $US8.65 ($AU12) to $US10 ($AU14) an hour on September 30.
- The federal minimum wage of $US7.25 ($AU10) hasn’t changed since 2009.
- Many states and localities have taken matters into their own hands and raised pay.
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Today, the minimum wage in Florida rises to $US10 ($AU14), as the state moves towards a $US15 ($AU21) minimum wage by 2026.
Alexis Davis, a policy analyst at The Florida Policy Institute, told Insider up to approximately 646,000 Floridians will directly benefit from that hike this year. Of the workers who might see an outright bump, 92% are over 18, according to Davis.
“These are Floridians struggling with everyday financial decisions like making rent or their mortgages, putting food on the table, and paying for childcare and medical expenses,” Davis wrote in an email to Insider. “On average, these Floridians could earn $US1,200 ($AU1,672) more per year with the shift to $US10 ($AU14)/hour.”
A flurry of states have moved to up their minimum wages in 2021, including Florida. Twenty states raised their minimum wages around the start of 2021. Connecticut raised its minimum wage from $US12 ($AU17) to $US13 ($AU18) on August 1. Nevada, Oregon, and DC all increased their minimum wages on July 1.
According to a report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a record-breaking number of jurisdictions are set to raise their wages in 2021. They say that 74 states, cities, and counties will raise their minimum wages this year – and, on January 1, 27 raised them to be $US15 ($AU21) or above. By the end of the year, according to NELP, 40 counties and cities will have raised their minimum wages to $US15 ($AU21) or more.
The federal minimum wage currently stands at $US7.25 ($AU10). In 2009, the last time it was raised, President Joe Biden was still Vice President Biden.
The push to raise the minimum wage to $US15 ($AU21) isn’t a new one; Fight for 15 first began in 2012, when fast-food workers in New York City walked off the job. But as the federal minimum wage has remained stagnant as inequality grows and a K-shaped recovery forms during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s top of mind for some lawmakers yet again.
Researcher Yannet Lathrop, the author of the NELP report, said that because the minimum wage hasn’t changed in over a decade, there’s been an incentive for states and localities to raise their own wages and not wait for Congress.
To look at how a minimum wage increase would impact workers, Insider mapped out the last time states raised their minimum wages and their current rates.
A look at previous minimum wage increases
Nineteen states increased their minimum wages on January 1, and New York raised its minimum wage just one day before the start of the new year. Several other states raised the minimum wage in recent years. But other states have not seen an increase in the minimum wage since 2009.
Georgia and Wyoming have state minimum wages below the federal minimum wage. If the federal minimum wage was higher than the state’s minimum wage, we noted the federal amount as the last minimum wage paid to employees in the state.
The following map shows what year the minimum wage increased and the current minimum wage in every state:
Over half the states have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage of $US7.25 ($AU10), and 16 states that have minimum wages the same as the federal minimum wage. Five states do not have minimum wage requirements, and so default to the federal minimum.
Some other states have not seen an increase since the federal minimum wage last rose from $US6.55 ($AU9) to $US7.25 ($AU10) on July 24, 2009. According to the Economic Policy Institute, there were 31 states affected by that increase, but several states have since raised their wages since then, such as New York and Maryland.
Michigan’s minimum wage would have increased to $US9.87 ($AU14) per hour this year, but stayed the same as last year’s rate of $US9.65 ($AU13) because the unemployment rate for 2020 was over 8.5%. The state law suspends increases if the unemployment rate for the previous year is above that level, per The Detroit News.
California has been raising its minimum wage since 2017. In 2023, the minimum wage rate will be $US15 ($AU21) per hour in the state for places with 25 or fewer employees. The minimum wage will be $US15 ($AU21) for places with 26 or more employees a year earlier.
Missouri’s minimum wage has also been increasing following a ballot measure in 2018, where the rate is gradually rising until it hits $US12 ($AU17) in 2023.
And even though Virginia’s minimum wage has been the same as the federal rate, the state saw its first increase in over a decade as part of the Virginia Minimum Wage Act. The state increased its minimum wage to $US9.50 ($AU13) per hour on May 1.
A handful of states have also enacted new minimum wage laws during 2021. Delaware passed legislation that will bring the wage up to $US15 ($AU21) by 2025, with a first increase kicking in next year. Rhode Island passed a similar bill, with the next increase scheduled for 2022 and rising to $US15 ($AU21) by 2025.
The effects of a minimum wage increase
Some economists and critics of a minimum wage increase argue that a raise would negatively impact employment, but that may not be the case. However, these raises do have an immediate and tangible impact on workers: In 2020, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) calculated that nearly 7 million workers would get a raise from yearly changes to minimum wages.
But, while there were many states and areas that have or will raise their wages in 2021, EPI was not able to predict how many workers were set to get a raise. That’s because the most vulnerable workers – those who are low-wage and low-work-from home – have been disproportionately impacted by pandemic-related unemployment.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated labor markets throughout the country, with a large share of the job losses occurring in low-wage sectors, such as leisure and hospitality, where minimum wage hikes typically affect large shares of workers,” EPI writes in their 2021 report.
Lathrop said that, right now, minimum-wage workers are mostly essential workers. Broadly, workers of colors – particularly Black workers – are overrepresented in frontline groups.
“Right now we have an the opportunity to lift pay for workers who are earning low wages, and who have been essential to keeping the economy going during the pandemic,” Lathrop said. “And so I guess the question is for elected officials, will they do more than just pay lip service to these workers? Or will they take this opportunity to reward their sacrifice by raising wages to at least 15?”