Wage Watch: Workers in 20 states to get a New Year’s raise by Claire Zillman @FortuneMagazine December 19, 2014, 2:52 PM EST E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons Workers in 20 states get a New Year’s raise When the calendar flips to 2015 in two weeks, 20 states will increase their minimum wage, raising the pay of approximately 4.4 million workers. Eleven states, along with the District of Columbia, approved voter referenda or passed legislation to increase their minimum hourly pay rates. Those states include Republican-leaning South Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Alaska. In the other locations, the increases were routine since the state rate is indexed for inflation. South Dakota will see the highest increase—from $7.25 to $8.50, while Florida has the smallest—a 12 cent boost prompted by inflation. After these increases are implemented, 29 states—and 60% of all U.S. workers—will have minimum wage above the federal rate of $7.25 per hour. Louisville gets a higher minimum wage Lawmakers in Louisville, Ky. approved a $9 minimum wage on Thursday night, making it the first city in the Southern United States to increase its minimum wage. The increase from the city’s current $7.25 rate will be implemented slowly over three years. The first boost to $7.75 will come in July 2015, followed by increases to $8.25 in July 2016, and a final hike to $9 a year after that. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer had vowed to veto any increase that went above $8.75, and the original proposal called for a hike to $10.10. Fischer said that he would approve the $9 wage, referring to the measure as a “balanced compromise.” Justice Department takes tougher stance on transgender discrimination U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced this week that, from now on, the Department of Justice will consider discrimination against transgender people covered by the sex discrimination prohibition in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The announcement is a reversal for the department and means that it can sue government employers for discriminating against employees or job candidates for being transgender. (The DOJ does not have authority sue private employers; that power falls to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.) In September, the EEOC filed its first transgender discrimination lawsuits and in July President Barack Obama issued an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.