20 States Ring In New Year With Minimum Wage Increases

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Ted Goodman Contributor
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On Jan. 1, 2017, the minimum wage increased to $10.50 per hour in the state of California, up 50 cents from its current rate of $10 per hour.

California isn’t the only state with a new increase — states across the country either passed increases through ballot measures, or the legislature took action to increase the minimum wage to pre-empt potential ballot measures. Some increases are substantial, while others are low, like in Florida, where the minimum wage is going up from $8.05 to $8.10.

In Vermont, for example, the minimum wage went up to $9.00 even, up from $8.60, while in Massachusetts, the minimum wage increased a dollar, from $10.00 to $11.00.

In California, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who signed into law Senate Bill 3, which increases California’s minimum wage each year so that it will reach $15 per hour in 2022. (RELATED: The Fight For A Fifteen Dollar Minimum Wage)

The rate will increase to $10.50 on Sunday, and then to $11 per hour on Jan. 1, 2018. The minimum wage will then increase one dollar each year, until 2022, when the new wage will reach $15 per hour. Businesses that employ 26 employees or more will be subjected to the schedule of annual increases, while smaller businesses are eligible for a delayed implementation.

Brown characterized the Fight for $15 as a moral imperative, worked with the state’s Democratic lawmakers and labor leaders to sign the piece of legislation in April, well before the November elections.

Business groups are calling the increases “reckless,” and warned that it would lead to job losses and worsen a states business climate. Bill Dombrowski, president of the California Retailers Association, predicted a $15 minimum wage would force some employers to compensate for higher labor costs by curtailing hours or cutting employees, a sentiment shared by President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the Department of Labor, Andy Puzder. (RELATED: Trump Nominates ‘Fight For $15’ Critic To Head Dept. Of Labor)

Activists and union leaders who are a part of the Fight for $15 movement are preparing for an uphill battle with the incoming Trump administration. The president-elect’s pick to lead the Department of Labor is a vocal critic of the Fight for 15, asserting that it will only lead to job losses among low wage workers.

The 20 states raising the minimum wage include: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and the District of Columbia all raised its minimum wages through ballot measures, while the state legislatures in Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and Vermont, raised the minimum wage in their individual states.

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