The new year will bring minimum wage increases for workers in 18 U.S. states and 20 American cities.
As the Fight for 15 campaign continues and studies about early adopters of higher minimums show that the negative impacts on employment levels is small, more and more state and local governments are opting to raise wages above the federal minimum.
There are now 29 states that have laws mandating higher pay than the $7.25 federal minimum wage, which has not changed since 2009. In 2017, 19 states began the year with wage increases—five states did so based on ballot measures and seven states raised pay based on legislation passed in prior sessions.
But it is cities leading the way as cost of living continues to rise faster than worker pay. There are 20 cities increasing wages in the new year.
In 13 cities, including the most expensive places to live in like New York City, Washington, D.C., and many California cities, the minimum wage is already $12 or higher. Most of the 2018 increases however, are tied to inflation and will result in only minor benefits for workers.
Some Republican state governments, like Ohio, have voted to block cities from raising wages faster than the state, while in states like Kentucky the courts have struck down metropolitan wage increases. Still, campaigns to raise the minimum wage are underway in 17 states and cities, according to the National Employment Law Project.
By 2022, 17% of Americans will live in a city or state with a $15 minimum wage.