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New Year Brings Wage Hike for Nearly Half of U.S. Minimum Wage Workers

As the clock strikes midnight on January 1, 22 states across the U.S. will see an increase in their minimum wage, benefiting nearly 10 million workers, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute. These raises, ranging from $216 to $1,380 annually, result from ballot measures, legislation, and inflation adjustments. The adjustments are expected to have a significant impact, potentially lifting workers out of poverty.

The wage increases, affecting a diverse workforce, with women comprising 58% and Black and Hispanic workers representing 49%, coincide with historically low unemployment rates. The Economic Policy Institute predicts that this will mark the “strongest wage growth for low-wage workers in decades.”

Despite this positive development, the report highlights a disparity between wage growth and worker productivity over the last several decades. The federal minimum wage, stagnant at $7.25 since 2009, remains unchanged, with seven states maintaining this rate. The study suggests that if wages had kept pace with production, the minimum wage today would be $19.

Thirty-eight cities and counties, mostly utilizing inflation adjustments, are also raising wages. Boulder County, Colorado, leads with a $2.04 increase, while others, including Seattle, Denver, and Portland, Maine, will see hikes ranging from 20 cents to $1.37.

In September, Florida is set to increase its minimum wage from $11 to $12, adding to the wave of positive developments for low-wage workers. The report underscores the need for broader wage reform and highlights the ongoing disparities in minimum wage policies across the United States.