Stateline is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts that provides daily reporting and analysis on trends in state policy.
The minimum wage increased in 20 states at the beginning of this year, and later in 2015 it will go up in Alaska, New York and Delaware. As a result, at least 3.1 million workers will get raises.
For the first time, a majority of states — 29 plus the District of Columbia — have minimum wages above the federal minimum, which is $7.25. The federal floor hasn’t increased since July 2009 and few expect Congress to enact a hike anytime soon, although President Barack Obama has called for an increase.
The average increase among the states is 50 cents an hour, but in Alaska, Minnesota, Rhode Island and South Dakota, the wage will rise by at least $1. When the increases take effect, the average wage in the 29 states and the District that have minimum wages above the federal floor will be $8.42. Among all the states and the District, the average will be $7.93.
Advocates, buoyed by a winning streak that has scored increased wages in red and blue states alike, plan to press for even more action in 2015.
“What this shows you is there’s a lot of movement on increasing wages,” said Yannet Lathrop of the worker-advocacy group, the National Employment Law Project(NELP). “This is a really great atmosphere.”