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Minimum Wage Increase 2016: 14 States Raise The Bar

Most of us forget our New Year’s resolutions within a matter of days or weeks – if we even make any in the first place. But for residents of 14 states (and at least two progressive cities), resolving to make more money in 2016 shouldn’t be difficult. In fact, it’s now the law.

As of Friday, January 1, 2016, 14 states increased their minimum wages. Here’s everything you need to know about the wage hikes.

Alaska: $9.75

Alaska’s minimum wage is now $9.75 per hour, a full $2.50 above the federal minimum of $7.25.

The same exceptions apply, so not every worker in Alaska will be entitled to the state’s new minimum wage. Agricultural workers, shrimp pickers and people employed in “the taking of aquatic life” are notable examples of Alaskan workers who aren’t entitled to the state’s minimum wage or overtime protections.

Alaska’s increase, $1 over the 2015 minimum of $8.75, rivals only California, Massachusetts and Nebraska as the largest rise for 2016.

Arkansas: $8

Arkansas’ new minimum wage remains on the low-end, even among states that have gone over and above the federal rate. But the state’s 2016 wage of $8 per hour represents a significant achievement for what Gallup named America’s 5th most conservative in 2015.

As always, Arkansas’ minimum wage law only covers businesses with 4 or more employees.

California: $10

Always leading the charge on labor rights, California has raised its state minimum wage to $10, nearly 38% higher than the federal minimum.

Shepherds, while they aren’t entitled to the minimum wage, saw a bump in 2016, too. People who herd sheep in California must be paid no less than $1,777.98 per month in the new year. Workers classified as “learners,” who are acquiring job skills through employment, can also expect an increase. Entitled to no less than 85% of the minimum wage, learners should now be making $8.50 hourly.

Colorado: $8.31

It’s not round, but at least it’s more. Colorado’s 2016 minimum wage is $8.31 per hour, a number calculated by taking inflation and cost of living into account.

The state’s tipped minimum wage is also higher. Workers who receive regular tips can be paid no less than $5.29 per hour in wages.

Connecticut: $9.60

One of many states to agree on a graduated increase in the minimum wage over a number of years, Connecticut has almost reached its goal of $10.10 per hour. That minimum wage will go into effect in 2017; for now, workers in Connecticut are entitled to no less than $9.60.

Hawaii: $8.50

Hawaii’s new 2016 minimum wage is $8.50, just one stop on the way to a rate of $10.10 that should become law in 2018.

Meanwhile, housing and living costs remain outrageous on the islands, leaving 7,000 residents homeless. That sounds low, but it’s the highest rate of homelessness per capita in the United States, according to CBS News.

Massachusetts: $10

Massachusetts joins California at the high-end of state minimum wages, with a new rate of $10 per hour. That generosity, however, doesn’t flow over to so-called “service workers.” Servers in restaurants and bartenders can still be paid at the state’s shockingly low service rate of $3.35 per hour, as long as they make more than $20 every month in tips.

Michigan: $8.50

Michigan’s increase to $8.50 per hour raises the lowest wage that tipped employees can receive to $3.23. More increases are scheduled for the future; by 2018, the state’s minimum wage will be $9.25.

Nebraska: $9

Nebraska’s new minimum wage of $9 per hour is a relatively major hike in pay for the state’s low-wage workers. While most states only raise their wages in nickels and dimes, Nebraska’s rate grew by a full dollar in 2016.

New York: $9

Governor Andrew Cuomo has long fought for higher wages for New York’s workers, and the state’s 2016 increase to a general minimum wage of $9 per hour is part of that goal.

Cuomo’s program has seen even faster implementation for employees in specific industries. Fast food workers in New York can now expect to make $15 an hour by 2018, and employees at state universities will probably get the same treatment soon.

New York’s minimum wage actually changed on New Year’s Eve, not New Year’s Day.

Rhode Island: $9.60

Rhode Island’s minimum wage is now $9.60. The change, which went into law on January 1st, marks the 4th time the state has raised its minimum wage in 4 years.

Unlike other states to see recent wage hikes, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has been passing a new law each year, rather than passing one law to gradually increase the rate over several years.

South Dakota: $8.55

One of several minimum wages pegged to the cost of living, South Dakota’s rate rose a meager $0.05 to $8.55 per hour in 2016.

Vermont: $9.60

Vermont’s minimum wage is now $9.60, and that will increase to $10.50 by 2018. The state also has one of the highest standards for what constitutes a tipped employee. Only workers who make more than $120 in tips per month are eligible for Vermont’s tipped minimum wage, now $5.00 per hour.

Vermont, of course, is home to current Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders, a long-time proponent of higher wages and labor rights in general.

West Virginia: $8.75

Filling out our list of 2016 minimum wage increases is West Virginia, where the majority of workers are now entitled to at least $8.75 per hour. That’s a $0.75 rise over 2015’s wage.

Seattle & Portland, Maine

Two of the nation’s most progressive cities also increased their local minimum wages for 2016. In Seattle, low-wage workers are now entitled to at least $13 per hour. Portland, Maine’s minimum went up to $10.10, a good $2.60 higher than the state’s minimum wage.

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