Several More States Raise Minimum Wage
29 states and D.C. have now raised it above federal minimum. But not Wisconsin.
Low-paid workers in various locations across the country got a raise this month, as increases in the minimum wage took effect in several states, counties, and cities. However, workers in Wisconsin were not among those benefitting from an increase in the minimum wage.
Locations with increases in the minimum wage include:
- Oregon, where the minimum wage increased to $9.75 per hour in urban counties and $9.50 in rural counties. The minimum will gradually increase to $12.50 to $14.75 depending on the county in 2022.
- Maryland, where the lowest-paid hourly workers now earn at least $8.75 an hour. Maryland’s minimum wage is set to slowly increase to $10.10 in 2018.
- Los Angeles, where low-paid workers will now get at least $10.50 an hour – and six days of paid leave a year. The minimum wage in Los Angeles is set to increase gradually to $15 per hour in 2020.
- Chicago, where workers will now earn at least $10.50 an hour. The minimum will increase in steps to $13 in 2019.
- Louisville, Kentucky, where the minimum wage increased to $8.25 per hour. Next year the minimum will increase again to $9 per hour.
The federal minimum wage hasn’t been increased since 2009, but lawmakers in most states have approved state-level minimum wages above the federal level of $7.25. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia now have minimum wages higher than the federal level.
Wisconsin is not among the states that have set a higher minimum wage, meaning that workers in Wisconsin still earn as little as $7.25/hour. That translates to about $14,500 per year for a full-time worker, meaning that a single parent working full time at the minimum wage would earn less than the poverty level. Wisconsin state lawmakers have prohibited local governments from setting their own higher minimum wages.
Workers wouldn’t be the only people in Wisconsin who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage. Raising the wage would improve the economic well-being of 284,000 Wisconsin children whose parents would get raises.
Most Wisconsin residents believe it’s time to raise our minimum wage. A Marquette University poll from June 2016 showed 54% of survey respondents favor an increase in the minimum wage, with 42% opposing an increase.
Wisconsin residents have also shown their support at the ballot box for increasing the minimum wage. In 2014, voters in 13 Wisconsin counties and cities had the opportunity to vote on a referendum asking lawmakers to raise the minimum wage – and every one of the referendums passed.
It’s high time to raise Wisconsin’s minimum wage and put more money into the pockets of families who are working hard to climb the economic ladder. Doing so would give a boost to the state’s economy, as families spend the additional money at local businesses, helping the bottom lines of those businesses. Policymakers in other states and locations have seen the wisdom of increasing the minimum wage and Wisconsin lawmakers should follow suit.