New minimum wage requirements will take effect in 20 states and nearly two dozen cities at the start of 2019. This will affect millions of workers. The increase in wages ranges from an extra 5 cents per hour in Alaska to a $1-an-hour increase in Maine, Massachusetts and for California employers with more than 25 workers.
Seattle’s largest employers will have to pay workers at least $16 an hour starting Tuesday. In New York City, many businesses will have to pay at least $15 an hour as of Monday. In both of those cities, that’s more than twice the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.
The state and local wage laws come in the wake of a multi-year push by unions and liberal advocacy groups to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour nationwide.
In Arkansas and Missouri, voters this fall approved ballot initiatives raising the minimum wage after state legislators refused. In Missouri, the minimum wage will rise from $7.85 to $8.60 an hour on Tuesday. This is the first of five annual increases that will take it to $12 an hour by 2023.
At Granny Shafffer’s in Joplin, waitress Shawna Green will see her base pay go up. But she has mixed emotions about it.
“We’ll have regulars, and they will notice, and they will bring it to our attention like it’s our fault and our doings” that menu prices are increasing, she said. “They’ll back off on something, and it’s usually their tips, or they don’t come as often.”
There are studies on minimum wage increases that have shown that some workers do benefit, while others might see their work hours reduced. Businesses may place a higher value on experienced workers, making it more challenging for entry-level employees to find jobs.
In May, the researchers determined that Seattle’s initial increase to $11 an hour had an insignificant effect on employment but that the hike to $13 an hour resulted in “a large drop in employment.”
In October, however, those same researchers reached a very different conclusion. They said Seattle workers employed at low wages experienced a modest reduction in hours worked after the minimum wage increased, but nonetheless saw a net increase in average pretax earnings of $10 a week.
The federal minimum wage was last raised in 2009. Since then, 29 states, the District of Columbia and dozens of other cities and counties have set minimum wages above the federal floor. Some have repeatedly raised their rates.