Federal Minimum Wage Hike Stalls, States Move Forward with Increases

Last week, Republicans blocked the Minimum Wage Fairness Act from coming to the floor of the U.S. Senate for debate. The Act fell six short of the 60 votes needed to move the Act forward, with 42 Republicans and one Democrat voting it down. The Act would increase the federal minimum wage rate from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour in step increases over two years. The Act would also increase the federal minimum wage for tipped employees from $2.13 to $3.00 per hour. The Act’s sponsor Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) was disappointed, but said that he will keeping trying until the Act becomes law. In the meantime, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is gathering support for an alternative bill that would increase the federal minimum wage to only $9 per hour.          

While the minimum wage increase stalls at the federal level, states act to pass their own increases. Last week, Hawaii passed a law that will incrementally increase its minimum wage rates to $10.10 per hour. And the City of Seattle announced plans to increase its minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next several years. In the last few months, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia have passed minimum wage increases.

Currently, 21 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wage rates that exceed the federal minimum wage rate. Arizona, Colorado, Montana, and New Mexico are among the states with higher minimum wage rates. Four states, including Wyoming, have minimum wage rates below the federal minimum wage rate. In those states, the higher federal rate applies. See a chart of all state minimum wage rates here