News Releases

Workers Across U.S. Getting Raises as 18 States and 19 Cities Increase Minimum Wages on Jan. 1

21 Other Jurisdictions Will Raise Their Minimum Wages Later in 2018; and Campaigns for More Raises Launching in 17 Other States and Cities

Washington, DC – Workers across the country will receive badly needed raises on January 1st as 18 states and 19 cities phase in minimum wage increases or adjust their wage floors to keep up with the cost of living.  These include 6 states and 17 cities that are phasing in increases that will eventually reach $12 to $15 an hour (13 of them are already at that level for some or all workers).

From New York to California and Maine to Arizona, workers are speaking out about how these pay increases are improving lives for millions of people struggling to make ends meet. Once the currently scheduled minimum wage increases are fully phased in, more than 15 million workers will have seen raises from coast to coast, according to a new report by the National Employment Law Project.

“Making $12.50 per hour in a city as expensive as Seattle … I saw no future for myself and no way out. Now, I have found a better place to live and make around $16-$17 after tips. I can save money. I can use my savings to go back to school, start a small business or just have something for when I get old. I can think about my future without a sense of dread,” said Keeley Brineman, a line cook from Seattle and a member of Working Washington, an affiliate of the Center for Popular Democracy.

“For too long, I have had to turn to charity for basic things like my kid’s toys and clothes. This raise means that, for the first time in my life, I will be able to bring my children to a store and buy them something with my own, hard-earned money. I’ve dreamed about this day, and I’m so grateful to all the other underpaid workers who stood beside me to call for higher pay,” said Elizabeth James, a fast-food worker in Schenectady and local Fight for $15 member.

“Workers across the country are now starting to see the pay increases they’ve been winning through the Fight for $15,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project.  “These big raises offer hope for workers – and are inspiring more states and cities to push for big raises for workers at the bottom.”

“It’s truly inspiring that millions of workers in 18 states will be receiving long overdue raises this new year in January. But this happened because workers organized and mobilized effecting real change and tangible benefits for families. Our work will not be done until all workers in this country can live with dignity and a fair wage,” said JoEllen Chernow, director of economic justice campaigns at the Center for Popular Democracy.

“This is welcome news for low wage workers at a time when they have every reason to worry about their economic wellbeing with attacks on health care, a tax scam, and budget cuts looming. All hail the advocates and organizers who fought hard for these raises and the legislators who voted to enact them,” said Jen Kern, issues director at Working Families.

As detailed in the new report, key facts about these New Year’s raises include the following:

  • Minimum wages will increase in 18 states and 19 cities on January 1.
  • In 6 states and 17 cities the increases will eventually reach $12 to $15 an hour – the new higher minimum wages that workers have been fighting for in recent years.
    • The minimum wage is already $12 or higher in 13 cities, including New York City with $13, Washington, DC with $12.50, and many California cities.
    • And several Silicon Valley cities will raise their minimum wages to $15 on January 1—including Sunnyvale and Mountain View—joining Seattle and SeaTac, Washington.  Later this year, San Francisco, Berkeley and Emeryville, CA will join them with $15 minimum wages, and New York City will follow on December 31, 2018.
  • Later in 2018, 3 more states and 18 and cities will follow with more minimum wage increases, bringing the 2018 totals to 21 states and 36 cities (two cities, Milpitas and Minneapolis, are raising their wages twice in 2018, but are counted only once in this total)
  • By the time these multi-year minimum wage increases are fully phased in, 15.5 million workers will receive raise
  • Campaigns to raise the wage are underway in at least 17 states and cities including Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan and Nevada

Cost-of-living data show that in all 50 states, workers will soon need $15 an hour or more to afford the basics.

The most sophisticated research on recent minimum wage increases, including the larger ones, finds little negative impact on jobs – which is in line with the bulk of credible research on minimum wages.  A much publicized recent study on Seattle, which found significant job losses, was exposed as severely flawed by respected economists. A more reliable study of Seattle’s still-phasing-in minimum wage found no significant job losses. Business press reports on Seattle’s economy and job market show that job growth remains strong, workers are in short supply, and many employers are offering even more than $15 an hour as they compete to fill positions.

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT:

Raises from Coast to Coast in 2018: Workers in 18 States and 19 Cities and Counties Seeing Minimum Wage Increases on January 1 (http://bit.ly/2oDtYzj)