The minimum wage increased in 19 states Jan. 1, directly affecting an estimated 5.3 million workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The boosts ranged from 5 cents an hour in Alaska to $2 an hour in New York.
The average wage for retail trade workers was $16.15 an hour in November 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.
The latest rises in state minimum-wage rates happened in three ways:
- By legislative action in California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and Rhode Island.
- By voter initiative in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Missouri and Washington.
- Through previous legislation action setting automatic cost-of-living adjustments in Alaska, Florida, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, South Dakota and Vermont.
The highest state minimum wage in 2019 is $12 an hour in California, Massachusetts and Washington. The minimum wage in the District of Columbia is $14 an hour.
The California minimum applies to businesses with 25 or more employees. Smaller companies can pay $11 an hour.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour but is exceeded in 29 states.