Earning

Half of states will raise their minimum wage in 2021 — here's the full list

"Almost always, you'll see voters approve the higher wage."

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A record number of states and jurisdictions will raise their minimum wages in 2021, according to a recent report by the National Employment Law Project.

That total, by its reckoning, includes 24 states and 50 local jurisdictions. At the state level, 20 rang in the new year by increasing their minimum wages, and four more will follow suit in the coming months.

The statewide raises run the gamut from increases of just a few cents to keep up with inflation to more substantial pay hikes of $1 or more that, over time, inch workers closer to at least $15 an hour.

"The public and legislators are starting to understand more and more that workers also need higher wages, whether or not there's a pandemic," says Yannet Lathrop, the report's author and a policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project. "When you put a minimum wage on the ballot, almost always you'll see voters approve the higher wage."

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 and has not been increased in more than a decade.

States that increased the minimum wage at the start of 2021

Alaska

New minimum wage: $10.34
Previous minimum wage: $10.19

Arizona

New minimum wage: $12.15
Previous minimum wage: $12

Arkansas

New minimum wage: $11
Previous minimum wage: $10

California

New minimum wage: $14 for large employers, $13 for small employers
Previous minimum wage: $13 for large employers, $12 for small employers

Colorado

New minimum wage: $12.32
Previous minimum wage: $12

Florida

New minimum wage: $8.65 in January, $10 in September
Previous minimum wage: $8.56

Illinois

New minimum wage: $11
Previous minimum wage: $10

Maine

New minimum wage: $12.15
Previous minimum wage: $12

Maryland

New minimum wage: $11.75 for large employers, $11.60 for small employers
Previous minimum wage: $11

Massachusetts

New minimum wage: $13.50
Previous minimum wage: $12.75

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Minnesota

New minimum wage: $10.08 for large employers, $8.21 for small employers
Previous minimum wage: $10 for large employers, $8.15 for small employers

Missouri

New minimum wage: $10.30
Previous minimum wage: $9.45

Montana

New minimum wage: $8.75
Previous minimum wage: $8.65

New Jersey

New minimum wage: $12 standard (other exceptions apply by industry)
Previous minimum wage: $11 standard (other exceptions applied by industry)

New Mexico

New minimum wage: $10.50
Previous minimum wage: $9

New York state

New minimum wage: $12.50 standard (excluding New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County), $14.50 in fast food (for restaurants not in New York City)
Previous minimum wage: $11.80 standard (excluding New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County), $13.75 in fast food (for restaurants not in New York City)

Ohio

New minimum wage: $8.80
Previous minimum wage: $8.70

South Dakota

New minimum wage: $9.45
Previous minimum wage: $9.30

Vermont

New minimum wage: $11.75
Previous minimum wage: $10.96

Washington state

New minimum wage: $13.69
Previous minimum wage: $13.50

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States increasing their minimum wages later this year

Another four states will increase their minimum wages later in the year.

That doesn't include Florida (see entry above), which will increase its pay floor twice this year. The first bump took effect January 1 to keep up with inflation. The second and more substantial increase will take effect in September as a result of a statewide initiative that voters approved in November to raise minimum wage in the Sunshine State to $15 by 2026.

Connecticut

New minimum wage: $13
Previous minimum wage: $12

Nevada

New minimum wage: $9.75 for people without health insurance benefits, $8.75 for those with health insurance benefits
Previous minimum wage: $9 for people without health insurance benefits, $8 for those with health insurance benefits

Oregon

New minimum wage: $12.75 standard, $12 in rural areas
Previous minimum wage: $12 standard, $11.50 in rural areas

Virginia

New minimum wage: $9.50
Previous minimum wage: $7.25

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Local minimum wage hikes push pay above $15

While most of the statewide pay bumps are incremental, an overwhelming number of the increases imposed by cities and counties this year are pushing pay to $15 or higher, according to the National Employment Law Project's report. Minimum-wage workers in 80% of the local jurisdictions that are raising their pay floors in 2021 will be making $15 or more.

Cities have been leading the political fight for higher minimum wages and setting the movement's broader momentum, says Lathrop.

As more cities adopt $15-per-hour pay floors, "there's more and more recognition that wages are too low," Lathrop says. "Fifteen is the bare minimum."

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