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Which states have the highest minimum wage?

The national minimum wage has been static since 2009 but as the cost of living rises some states have raised their pay floor for the lowest paying jobs.

States with the highest minimum wage

Currently the US federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, meaning that a person earning this wage who worked 40 per week every week of the year, would bring home $15,080 annually. That is less than half the US median annual average and slightly above the US poverty threshold at $13,590 for an individual.

The current minimum wage has not changed since July 2009 and is the earnings floor that non-federal workers in 20 states can expect. Galloping inflation over the past two years has accelerated the erosion of the incomes for those at the bottom end of the pay scale. To remedy this, states and localities have been changing their minimum-wage laws.

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States with the highest minimum wage

While the federal minimum wage has been stuck at its current level, since 2014 over two dozen states and Washington DC have raised their own base hourly wage. They are joined by 46 localities across the nation that also require employers to pay their workers above the federally mandated level.

Of the 30 states and Washington DC that have laws setting their minimum wage higher than the federal base, 11 of them and Washington DC now index their set minimum wages. Seven more will do so once they reach a new baseline minimum wage.

Currently there are just over a half a dozen states that have minimum wage over $13 per hour. But through indexing and scheduled increases that number will grow to 15 states in 2023. These are primarily in the Northeast and on the West Coast.

Top ten minimum wages 2023 in the US

Washington DC$16.10N/A1 July 2023
Washington$14.49$15.741 January 2023
California$15.00$15.501 January 2023
Connecticut$14.00$15.001 June 2023
Massachusetts$14.25$15.001 January 2023
New York (NYC,LI,W /Upstate)$15.00/13.20$15.00/14.2031 December 2022
Oregon$13.50N/A1 July 2023
New Jersey$13.00$14.131 January 2023
Maine$12.75$13.801 January 2023
Vermont$12.55$13.181 January 2023

Minimum wage workers in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, South Dakota, Virginia will also see an increase in 2023.

Raising the minimum wage is a popular measure

Raising the minimum wage has been a winner whether it is in Republican-leaning or Democrat-leaning states. From 1996 to 2020, there were 27 minimum wage increase measures on the ballot across the US. Of the 27 measures, 25 were approved and 2 were defeated, with approval averaging 60 percent according to Ballotpedia. Florida was the most recent voting in the November elections to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2026.

According to research by the Economic Policy Institute in 2019, gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would have directly lifted the wages of 28.1 million workers. The average directly affected worker who works all year would receive a $3,900 increase in annual wage income, equal to a raise of 20.9 percent.

$15 an hour probably not enough to keep households afloat

A study released by Oxfam America, an anti-poverty advocacy group found that 52 million Americans, one in three, were earning less than $15 per hour. However, even those who are lucky enough to live somewhere that has a higher baseline pay are probably still struggling.

According to MIT’s Living Wage Calculations the living wage in the US is $24.16 per hour before taxes for a family of four. That estimate is nearly $3 per hour higher than the year before. While the cost of living varies from state to state and urban versus rural areas, generally the places that have the highest minimum wage also have the highest cost of living.