Minimum Wage Going Up — With Or Without Congress

The minimum wage is going up and states aren’t waiting for a federal mandate to make it happen.

After President Barack Obama urged local politicians to not wait on congress to see that workers in their areas be paid more, mayors, governors, and others have responded to the call by changing policies and passing legislation that will allow lower-income workers to take home a higher pay.

The federal minimum wage — which is currently at $7.25 per hour — is disputed by many, saying that it is not realistic that a family can live on that wage. Workers in many areas and states will soon find out if a slight bump will make it easier to live. Although Obama has urged Congress to increase the federal minimum wage, here are some of the states and cities that are moving ahead with a minimum wage hike:


Hawaii’s state senate passed a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $8.20 in 2015 and then to $10.10 by 2017. The bill is now in the house for final approval.


Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has proposed that the minimum wage in his state also be increased to $10.10. After passing the state’s House Economic Matters Committee, it now is scheduled to be voted on by the full house.


Minnesota — a state that has a minimum wage of $6.15 — is looking to increase its minimum wage by 42% to $9.50 per hour. The senate and house are still negotiating terms of what a bill proposing this minimum wage increase would look like.


Chicago — whose mayor is former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel — sent a letter to the Chicago City Council expressing his support for an increase to the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

Santa Fe

Residents in Santa Fe, New Mexico are already reaping the benefits of an increased minimum wage, which just increased on March 1 to $10.66 per hour. The only city in the country with a higher minimum wage is SeaTac, a small town near the Seattle-Tacoma airport ($15 per hour).

Dozens of other states and municipalities have discussed what the ramifications of raising the minimum wage would be and analysts are simply expecting that more state and local politicians will continue looking into raising workers’ take-home pay. Jack Temple, a policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, told CNN that people are tired of waiting for congress.

“Congressional gridlock is motivating states and cities to take raising the minimum wage into their own hands.”

Image via Washington Post