Minimum Wage

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Due to a mix of legislative actions and ballot initiatives this year, the minimum wage for workers has recently increased in two Midwestern states and will rise in two others starting in 2015. Proposed wage hikes appeared on ballots in Nebraska and South Dakota in November and won by comfortable margins.

On Monday, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled against a local businessman - Jackson T. Stephens Jr., who is also board chairman of the Club for Growth - thus allowing a question about the state's minimum wage to remain on the ballot. Mr. Stephens argued that supporters of the initiative did not hit a key deadline for submitting their petition and that some of the signatures on that petition were forged. 

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At the start of this year, Minnesota was the only state in the Midwest that had a minimum wage lower than the federal requirement. Starting in August, it will have the region’s highest, as part of a gradual phase-in that will require the state’s larger employers (sales of more than $500,000 a year) to pay their workers at least $9.50 per hour by August 2016.

According to the Huffington Post, Sen. Mark Leno introduced a bill yesterday that would raise the minimum wage in the state in increments to $13.00 per hour by 2017. If passed, the legislation would make California the state with the highest pending minimum wage. Washington currently has the highest state minimum wage, at $9.32 per hour. "This issue has garnered interest across this country at a speed unimaginable," Sen. Leno told the Huffington Post. It is likely that the bill be heard in policy committees in the Senate this spring.

As of Jan. 1, 2014, the minimum wage increased over 2013 rates in 13 states—Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. In addition to these 13 states, California’s minimum wage will increase from $8 an hour to $9 an hour on July 1, 2014. In New York, the wage is scheduled to increase again to $8.75 per hour on Dec. 31, 2014. Here is a state-by-state look at how states are approaching the minimum wage right now: