With the coming new year, 13 states will be increasing their minimum wage. Although Congress failed to raise the federal minimum wage, these states have taken action to improve the pay of many minimum wage workers. And another 11 states and the District of Columbia are considering taking action in 2014. The push for an increase in minimum wage follows growing concern about the disproportionate spread of low-wage workers, and the need to increase the amount of disposable income lower income consumers have in order improve local economies.
While the federal government has failed to raise minimum wage from its current $7.25/hour, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) ensures that all workers receive at least that much.
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Many people involved in the fight to raise minimum wage believe that in 2014 even more states will raise their wages. According to a representative of the National Employment Law Project “2014 is poised to be a turning point,” “States are seeing the unemployment rate is going down but job growth is disproportionately concentrated in low-wage industries. (They’re) frustrated that Congress is dragging its feet.”
In fact, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island legislatures voted to raise the minimum hourly wage by as much as $1, to $8 to $8.70, by Wednesday. California’s minimum wage will be increased by $1 to $9, and will become effective as of. Other states increasing their minimum wage include: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire and South Dakota plan to consider minimum-wage hikes next year.
One of the reasons for the push has been an increased awareness of the difficulty of making ends meet when earning minimum wage, partly fueled by walkouts this year in at least 100 cities by fast-food workers who are calling for $15-an-hour pay and the right to form unions. Wal-Mart workers have staged similar protests.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 3.6 million hourly paid workers received wages at or below the federal minimum in 2012 – almost 5% of all employees on hourly pay schedules. President Obama is seeking to pass legislation lifting the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in three steps over two years and then index it to inflation.
For more information or if you have any wage and hour questions, or believe that you have not received all the pay you deserve, please contact the top Georgia wage and hour attorneys at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP, LLC for an immediate case evaluation.