Nearly Half of States Pushing Minimum Wage Higher Than Federal Level

Gov. Malloy’s proposal for Connecticut to raise its minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017 would extend the state’s longstanding status as consistently above the federal minimum wage.  But Connecticut is far from alone in outpacing the federal government.  The current federal minimum hourly wage is $7.25.

Data from the Pew Research Center and USA Today indicates that no fewer than 21 states have set higher minimums, ranging from $7.50 in Missouri to $9.32 in Washington State. Those states collectively include 45% of the nation’s working-age (16 and over) individuals, according to 2013 data compiled by Pew.  It is expected that by thestate wage rates end of 2014, an additional nine states may be above the federal minimum, marking the first time minimum pay in most states will be above the federal level, according to the National Employment Law Project, as reported by USA Today.

Thirteen states raised their minimum wage on January 1, 2014, including Connecticut.  On January 1, Connecticut's minimum wage moved from $8.25 to $8.70, the first of two scheduled increases in the state’s minimum hourly wage. A second increase is set to follow on January 1, 2015, bringing the state's minimum wage up to $9.00 per hour, based on legislation approved last year.   Malloy’s newly proposed three-year incremental increases would continue to bump up the hourly minimum through 2017.

Last February, a Pew Research Center survey found that 71% of people favored an increase in the federal minimum to $9.00/hour from $7.25. USA Today has reported that as many as 11 states and Washington, D.C., are expected to consider increases in 2014.

Adjusted for inflation, the federal minimum wage peaked in 1968 at $8.56 (in 2012 dollars), according to Pew researchers. Since it was last raised in 2009, tNewMinimumWageDistributiono the current $7.25/hour, the federal minimum has lost about 5.8% of its purchasing power to inflation, Pew points out.

Just over half (50.6%) of the 3.55 million U.S. workers who were at or below the federal minimum in 2012 were ages 16 to 24; an additional 20.3% were ages 25 to 34.  Pew indicated that both shares have stayed more or less constant over the past decade. The 3.55 million represents about 2.8% of all wage and salary workers.

An estimated 70,000 to 90,000 workers out of Connecticut’s total workforce of 1.7 million earn the minimum wage. It has been reported that a Connecticut resident working full time this year at minimum wage will make $18,096.  

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which tracks the federal and state minimum wages, indicates that in 2000 the federal minimum was $5.15 and Connecticut’s was $6.15.  A generation ago, in 1972, the federal minimum wage was $1.65; Connecticut was at $1.85.

2014 increases