Lots of minimum-wage increases are going into effect this year

A groundswell of activism over the last decade is responsible for the massive boost, according to a new report.
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· 3 min read

The new year brings new, increased wages to a growing number of minimum-wage workers in the United States. While 21 states and 35 cities and counties saw their minimum wages rise for the New Year’s Eve ball drop and into January 1, 2022, a total of “81 jurisdictions—25 states and 56 municipalities—will raise their minimum-wage floors before the end of 2022,” according to a report from the National Employment Law Project.

Here’s a rundown of where the minimum-wage hikes have already gone into effect, and where they’re slated to take effect later.

A record wage increase. The NELP described 2022’s wage increases as a “record,” galvanized largely by years of worker-led “organizing, demanding, and winning higher wages,” the report described. Many of the jurisdictions are upping wages to different levels, but a total of 44 cities and counties will have increased the minimum wage to $15 an hour by the end of the year for at least some employers. In New York State, a rolling phase-in of $15-an-hour has now expanded to include employers in Long Island and Westchester, and California’s state minimum wage will also reach $15 an hour for employers with 26 or more employees.

The hikes implemented by most states and jurisdictions fall short of the $15-an-hour benchmark advocated by labor activists for years. Here’s a glance at some states’ hourly pay increases that went into effect on the first day of the year, presented here in a map compiled by USA Today.

  • Arizona: $12.15 to $12.80
  • New Mexico: $10.50 to $11.50
  • Colorado: $12.32 to $12.56
  • Montana: $8.75 to $9.20
  • Virginia: $9.50 to $11.00
  • Vermont: $11.75 to $12.55
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Not all state wage increases are the same for all employers. Minnesota’s minimum wage, for example, is either $10.33 or $8.42 an hour, depending upon the size of employer, while Oregon will up its three different minimum wages when hikes go into effect later, on July 1 ($14.75 in Portland, $13.50 for “standard employment” outside of Portland, and $12.50 for non-urban counties).

Activism and resistance. The NELP attributes the surge of wage hikes to the consistent activism of workers, who’ve been periodically spilling out into the streets to protest their low wages.

“The upcoming minimum-wage raises in January 2022 and later in the year are a testament of the power of underpaid workers coming together to demand higher wages,” Yannet Lathrop, the report’s author, told HR Brew. Lathrop noted that work remains for advocates, however: “Twenty states—many of them in the South—have refused to raise their minimum wages, and most of them also block cities and counties from enacting their own minimum wages,” she wrote in an email.

Opponents of a federal $15-an-hour minimum wage, which include industry groups such as the National Federation of Independent Business, have argued that a $15-an-hour wage would result in massive job losses for the broader economy.

Last July, another NELP report noted that the Fight for $15 movement had netted $150 billion for 26 million workers over the previous nine years.—SB

Do you work in HR or have information about your HR department we should know? Contact Sam Blum via the encrypted messaging app Telegram (@SamBlum_Brew) or simply email [email protected].

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News built to help HR pros grow their impact & improve the future of work.