scorecardOver 8 million workers just got a raise. This map shows the states that raised their minimum wages.
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  5. Over 8 million workers just got a raise. This map shows the states that raised their minimum wages.

Over 8 million workers just got a raise. This map shows the states that raised their minimum wages.

Juliana Kaplan,Madison Hoff   

Over 8 million workers just got a raise. This map shows the states that raised their minimum wages.
PolicyPolicy4 min read
  • Almost half the states across the US saw their hourly minimum wages increase on January 1, 2023.
  • The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 for over 13 straight years now; the last increase was July 24, 2009.

The $7.25 federal minimum wage is over 13 years old — and many states don't think that's enough.

Since 2009, the minimum wage remained stagnant, reaching its lowest value in decades thanks to soaring inflation.

"It is very frustrating to me that Congress and many state legislatures — but not all — have effectively abandoned their commitment to paying decent wages," Ben Zipperer, an economist specializing in the minimum wage and low-wage labor markets at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, told Insider.

A flurry of states have moved to increase their minimum wages in 2023, which will impact over 8 million workers. Just under half of states, 23, raised wages to kick off 2023, according to the Economic Policy Institute — and some cities and counties did the same.

The push to raise the minimum wage to $15 isn't a new one. Fight for 15 first began in 2012, when fast-food workers in New York City walked off the job.

Researcher Yannet Lathrop, the author of a report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) on the minimum wage, said that because the federal rate 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. However, while local increases disproportionately benefit workers of color and women, many marginalized workers are still left behind by piecemeal raises.

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

Twenty-three states increased their minimum wages around January 1. Some 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 $7.25. 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 $6.55 to $7.25 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.

Raising the minimum wage is popular across party lines, something that's likely spurred many states to adopt a higher minimum. In 2020, for instance, Florida voted for Donald Trump — and voted to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Alexis Davis, a policy analyst at The Florida Policy Institute, told Insider up to approximately 646,000 Floridians would directly benefit from that hike in 2021 alone.

"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 $1,200 more per year with the shift to $10/hour."

Many states have gradual increases already set in place.

California, which has been raising its minimum wage annually over the past few years, saw its minimum wage increase to $15.50 on January 1, 2023. According to EPI, 3.2 million workers there — 18.9% of California's workforce — will get a bump from the 2023 raise.

In Delaware, the minimum wage is gradually ticking up to $15 an hour. As of January 1, workers in Delaware will now get a minimum of $11.75 an hour, amounting to a nearly $1,000 annual increase, according to EPI.

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 — and workers of color and women disproportionately stand to benefit from raising the minimum wage.

"There is literally no county in the country where you can live, even as a single adult with no kids, earning less than $15 an hour and still be able to afford basic expenses like rent, commuting, costs, food, and so forth," Zipperer said.

And, as prices skyrocket, some wages have been on the rise too. But pay gains aren't keeping up with inflation for many workers, although the lowest earners have seen big bumps.

"It is true that employers are raising wages and those wage increases have been larger at the bottom. That's good," Zipperer said. "But there's a reason we have minimum pay standards and that's because we still have a crisis of low pay in this country, even with recent wage gains."

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