January 26, 2017Client Alert

Minimum Wage Laws Greatly Expanded in 2016

Pay to rise for millions: Minimum wage will increase in 19 states

Nineteen states, including New York and California, will ring in the New Year with an increase in the minimum wage. At $11/hour, Massachusetts and Washington State will have the highest new minimum wages in the country.

California will raise its wage to $10. New York State is taking a regional approach, with the wage rising to $11 in New York City, $10 in its down-state suburbs, and $9.70 elsewhere.

Voters in Arizona, Maine, Colorado, and Washington approved increases in this year’s election. Seven other states—Alaska, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, and South Dakota—are automatically raising the wage based on indexing. The other states seeing minimum wage increases are Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Michigan, and Vermont.

The adjustments in Oregon, New York, California and several other states are part of a series of gradual increases to a $12 or $15 hourly wage. In Maryland, for example, the minimum wage for 2017 is initially set at $9.25 beginning July 1, 2017, and is slated for an increase to $10.10, effective July 1, 2018. At the current time, 29 states have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour), and five states (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee) have not set a state minimum wage. Minimum wage has also gone up as of January 1, 2017, in 22 cities and counties, including San Diego and San Jose, CA, and Seattle, WA. The federal minimum was last raised in 2009.

Michael Best has reported on minimum wage activity in a series of client alerts (see: January 2016 and November 2016). Increases in minimum wage, coupled with Right to Work laws in 32 states, have significantly changed the employment landscape. As Representative Virginia Foxx from North Carolina, incoming Chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce, recently stated, “Organized labor has sort of lost its reason for being because of the many laws in place to protect workers.”


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