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2017 brings higher minimum wage in 22 states

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in Centerpiece,Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

Minimum wage

For employers with staff in more than one state—or even more than one city—complying with minimum wage laws just got more complicated. That’s because a new year always ushers in more than good wishes.  

Twenty-two states, the District of Columbia and some cities have all decided to raise the minimum wage in their jurisdictions. Most increases went into effect on Jan. 1.

Perhaps more important in the long run than the new rates themselves is how these states and cities went about raising their minimum wages. They didn’t rely solely on legislative measures.

Instead, many increases resulted from ballot initiatives. Voters (who presumably are also workers) went to the polls to raise wages.

It was all a part of a larger initiative spearheaded by the outgoing Obama administration to circumvent Republicans in Congress, who have been reluctant to even consider a national minimum wage increase.

These states used ballot measures to raise minimum wage: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington. So did the District of Columbia.

Legislatures in seven states voted to raise minimum wage: Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and Vermont.

Workers in Oregon, Maryland and Washington, DC will have to wait until later this year for their raises, while workers in the other states saw increases show up with their first 2017 paychecks.

The increases vary, depending on whether the raises follow a so-called indexed rate or a specific set rate. For example, in New York state, the increase is regional and depends on employer size, with the rate rising to $11 in New York City, $10 in downstate suburbs and $9.70 elsewhere.

Two states tie for the highest minimum wage. Washington and Massachusetts employers will have to pay workers $11 per hour.

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