Minimum wage is one of the hottest talking points in the country right now, both by politicians and the everyday man. Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. However, many states across the nation have different minimums — some of which are lower than the federal standard. There has been a push to raise the federal minimum wage, with some advocates saying it should be raised to $15 an hour. However, opponents of such a drastic step say that more than doubling the minimum wage would have devastating effects on the economy, and would force many small businesses to shut down.
While the validity of a higher federal minimum wage will likely be argued for years to come, one thing is certain: Some states have a higher cost of living than others. For instance, rent for a 1 bed, 1 bath apartment in New York City may run for a few thousand dollars, while a similar apartment in a different city may cost a few hundred dollars a month. Because of this discrepancy, many states are taking it upon themselves to increase their own minimum wage. Including Washington, D.C., here are the top 10 minimum wages in the United States in 2016:
- Washington (State)
The minimum wage in Washington is $9.47 an hour. Every year, the state legislature evaluates changes in cost of living and adjusts the minimum wage accordingly. This practice began in 1998 with Initiative 688.
FUN FACT: In addition to having one of the highest minimum wages, Washington is also one of the few states that does not impose a personal income tax, making it a great place to work.
Most workers in Minnesota make $9.50 an hour, thanks to a bump in minimum wage on August 1 of 2016. Before that change, the minimum wage was $9. In addition, starting in 2018, the state will increase minimum wage to match inflation.
FUN FACT: Thanks to its nearly 12,000 lakes, Minnesota has about 90,000 miles of shoreline. That’s more than California, Florida and Hawaii combined!
- Rhode Island (Tie)
At the beginning of 2016, Rhode Island raised their minimum wage to $9.60 an hour. The state was expected to continue to increase their minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in 2017, but that was halted when local business owners asked for more time to adjust to the 2016 increase.
FUN FACT: Rhode Island is considered by many to be the birthplace of American Democracy. Roger Williams established the colony after being banished from Plymouth for his “radical” views on freedom of speech and religion.
- Connecticut (Tie)
The current minimum wage in Connecticut is $9.60 an hour, a 5 percent increase from 2015. This increase is part of a state initiative to set minimum wage at $10.10 an hour in 2017. Connecticut was the first state to pass such an initiative, back in 2014.
FUN FACT: Connecticut is home to the nation’s oldest public library. The Scoville Memorial Library has been lending books to locals since 1771.
- Vermont (Tie)
Like its New England neighbors, Vermont set its state minimum wage to $9.60 an hour at the beginning of 2016. This was the second of 4 increases that will eventually set the state minimum wage at $10.50 an hour in 2018.
FUN FACT: Not only is Vermont the maple syrup capital of the US, producing over a half a million gallons a year, they also have the most dairy cows per capita in the country.
- Alaska (Tie)
The state minimum wage in Alaska is $9.75 an hour. The state saw one of the biggest increases between 2015 and 2016, when minimum wage jumped up by $1. However, 2015 was the first wage increase in 5 years.
FUN FACT: Not only is Alaska the largest state by land area, it is also home to 17 of the 20 tallest peaks in the country — including the nation’s highest peak, Mt. McKinley/Denali.
- Oregon (Tie)
Thanks to midyear annual increases, Oregon increased its minimum wage in much of the state to $9.75 this year. However, some more rural areas in the eastern and southern parts of the state have a lower minimum wage of $9.50 an hour. By 2022, minimum wage will be $14.75 an hour.
FUN FACT: While most Americans love their cats and dogs, Oregonians have a love for different pets: llamas. In fact, about a fourth of all llamas in the country live in Oregon.
- California (Tie)
California is leading the national fight for higher minimum wages, setting theirs at $10 an hour at the beginning of 2016. By 2022, the state minimum wage will be $15, but some cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have plans to reach that milestone before the state does.
FUN FACT: California’s economy is not only the largest in the country, it is one of the largest in the world. If it were its own nation, its $2.5 trillion economy would be the 7th in the world!
Like California, Massachusetts raised its minimum wage to $10 an hour at the beginning of 2016. But, this state’s current initiative will end when minimum wage reaches $11 an hour. While there is a push for $15 an hour, state legislators aren’t too keen on that goal.
FUN FACT: Massachusetts is the birthplace of two staples in American culture. Basketball was first invented by James Naismith at the YMCA in Springfield in 1891. In 1950, the first Dunkin’ Donuts opened in Quincy.
- Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C has a minimum wage of $11.50 as of July 2016, which makes sense, considering the Capitol has one of the highest costs of living in the country. Under the city’s current initiative, minimum wage will increase to $15 by 2020.
FUN FACT: Washington, D.C. is filled with statues and memorials honoring presidents and other leaders. However, one dog has also been cast into bronze: Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Scottish terrier, Fala.
There are two states in the nation with minimum wages under the federal level: Georgia and Wyoming ($5.15 an hour). That means workers not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act can be paid less than $7.25 an hour in these states. In addition, six states have no minimum wage laws on the books, instead adhering to federal law.
With new politicians taking over in Washington, the push for a higher federal minimum wage may either find powerful allies or stall completely. Regardless, these states have shown that they are dedicated to making sure their residents get paid well. If you are considering moving potentially across the nation for a new job or just a fresh start, these are great states to keep in mind.