Seven states to boost minimum wage

By Blake Ellis, staff reporter

NEW YORK ( -- About 647,000 minimum wage workers will see their paychecks bump up slightly beginning next year, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Employment Law Project.

Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington are the seven states planning to modestly raise minimum wages on Jan. 1, labor advocacy group NELP said.

The minimum wage hikes -- which are automatic adjustments made each year to reflect regional and national inflation rate changes -- will boost payrolls by between nine and 12 cents.

Washington will raise minimum wages the most -- by 12 cents -- bringing the state's hourly rate to $8.67 and adding an extra $20 a month to paychecks. Colorado will hike its minimum wage by 11 cents, while Arizona, Montana, Ohio and Oregon will raise it by 10 cents. Vermont will boost its minimum wage by nine cents.

But only 10 states automatically adjust their minimum wage levels each year for inflation. The remaining 40 states and D.C. must legislate any change in minimum wage, and none of those states have plans for increases at this time, according to the NELP.

The advocacy group said it is pushing for more states to implement the automatic adjustments, arguing that even the smallest boost in pay helps workers keep up with the rising cost of living and benefits state economies.

"These small increases mean that thousands of minimum wage earners like health aides, child care workers, restaurant workers and retail clerks will be better able to put food on the table, provide for their children, and keep a roof over their head," said Christine Owens, executive director of NELP.

Owens said minimum wage employees tend to be adults supporting families, with three-quarters of minimum wage earners in the U.S. are 20 years old or older and more than 60% are women.

"In addition to helping working families in the states make ends meet, raising wages for the lowest-paid workers will help sustain consumer spending and spur economic recovery," she said. "Minimum wage increases go directly to workers who spend them immediately -- because they have to -- on basic necessities like food, gas, rent, and clothing."

Taking into account the increases scheduled for the beginning of the year, 17 states and the District of Columbia will boast minimum wages above the federal level of $7.25.

Congress has only increased the federal minimum wage three times in the last 30 years, according to NELP. But if it had made automatic adjustments based on inflation beginning in 1968, the federal minimum wage would currently be above $10, the organization said. To top of page

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