Approximately 4.5 million low wage workers in 18 states saw a boost in their paychecks starting New Year’s Day as wage hikes took effect.
That’s $5 billion in additional wages.
All 18 states already had wages higher than the federal minimum of $7.25 to start with, a rate just 2.7 percent of the country’s population actually earned in 2016, according to the Washington Post.
Ten of the hikes are part of a larger phase toward a higher wage, the result of recent ballot initiatives demanded by unions and workers rights groups.
For the other eight states, the wage increases are due to increases in cost of living. Because some of those wages are adjusted according to the inflation index, which rises with the cost of living, these raises amount to less than a quarter an hour.
Low wage workers in other states, such as Maine, saw a full dollar increase.
Several cities in the country have also recently raised their minimum wage as high as $15 per hour.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank on economic policy, raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 could lift wages for 41 million American workers.
“Over the phase-in period of the increases, the rising wage floor would generate $144 billion in additional wages, which would ripple out to the families of these workers and their communities,” the policy noted in their research. “Because lower-paid workers spend much of their extra earnings, this injection of wages would help stimulate the economy and spur greater business activity and job growth.”
The federal minimum wage was last raised in 2009 when President George W. Bush signed a series of increases into law. President Barack Obama tried to vy for a hike during his second term, but Democratic proposals were blocked in Congress.
A new wage can’t be set unless Congress passes a bill and that bill is signed by the president into law. Instead, since 2009, states have had to respond independently to rising living costs and citizen demands.
Alaska: $9.84 ($.04 increase)
Arizona: $10.50 ($.50 increase)
California: $11.00 ($.50 increase)
Colorado: $10.20 ($.90 increase)
Florida: $8.25 ($.15 increase)
Hawaii: $10.10 ($.85 increase)
Maine: $10.00 ($1.00 increase)
Michigan: $9.25 ($.35 increase)
Minnesota: $9.65 ($.15 increase)
Missouri: $7.85 ($.15 increase)
Montana: $8.30 ($.15 increase)
New Jersey: $8.60 ($.16 increase)
New York: $10.40 ($.70 increase)
Ohio: $8.30 ($.15 increase)
Rhode Island: $10.10 ($.50 increase)
South Dakota: $8.85 ($.20 increase)
Vermont: $10.50 ($.50 increase)
Washington: $11.50 ($.50 increase)