Next week marks four years since the last time that there was an increase in the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25 per hour). While we have argued here, here and here that the federal minimum-wage rate is too low, 19* states have taken matters into their own hands. These states have passed legislation to raise their minimum wage above the level set by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The state of Washington has the highest state minimum wage at $9.19 (with the future level indexed to inflation). Oregon follows closely behind at $8.95 (also indexed). Ten of the 19 states have also linked their state minimum wage to the consumer price index, so that the rate automatically keeps pace with inflation each year (AZ, CO, FL, MO, MT, NV, OH, OR, VT, and WA).
State legislation has set a standard for higher minimum-wage rates linked to cost-of-living increases. It is past time for the federal government to follow suit.
*This past March, New York State passed minimum wage legislation that will increase the state minimum wage to $9.00 by the end of 2015. This will be implemented incrementally starting with an increase to $8.00 by the end of this year. Rhode Island also just passed legislation to increase their minimum wage to $8.00 by January 1, 2014. And, with the passage of Public Act 13-117, Connecticut will be increasing their minimum wage to $8.70 by January 1, 2014 and then $9.00 by January 1, 2015.