What a difference a year makes. On Jan. 1, 2014, only 21 states had a minimum wage higher than the federal wage. One year later, more than half of states – 29 – are set to have a minimum wage higher than the federal rate of $7.25/hr. Ten states enacted minimum wage increases during the 2014 legislative session and four states passed a wage hike via ballot initiative.

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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.
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In Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl, the Supreme Court will decide whether a federal court is barred from deciding a constitutional challenge to a Colorado law that requires remote sellers who don’t collect state sales tax to comply with notice and reporting requirements. The State and Local Legal Center’s ...

In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama called for an increase in the federal minimum wage, from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. Although Congress did not pass minimum wage legislation in 2014, a number of states have taken action and others likely will address this issue in 2015. The Council of Economic Advisers estimates that from 2013 to 2017, about 7 million workers will benefit from minimum wage increases enacted by state and local governments.1

By Nevada Sen. Pat Spearman
Veterans offer unique assets to the workforce and economic development of our country. Unfortunately, many challenges exist in pairing veterans with job, career and entrepreneurial opportunities. Members of the CSG Subcommittee on Military and Veterans’ Concerns identified five categories to address this issue and ensure active service members and veterans successfully move toward their goals on the pathway to prosperity.

The U.S. Dept. of Labor announced last week that Michigan has been awarded $2.8 million to enhance and expand its short-time compensation program (STC), which is designed to help prevent layoffs through “work-sharing”. STC programs are administered through the federal-state unemployment compensation system and allow employers to reduce employee work hours during tough economic times as an alternative to laying them off. Through the STC program, employees who have had their hours reduced receive some percentage of the weekly unemployment benefits that they would have received if they had been completely laid off.  

President Barack Obama in July signed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which is designed to help individuals seeking employment access the needed education, training and support services to be successful in the labor market. This complimentary CSG eCademy session offers an overview of the federal law and its impact on states and explores innovative career pathway programs currently in place.

On Election Day 2014, the minimum wage appeared on the ballot in four states - Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota - and in every state, a majority of voters decided the wage should be raised. The changes will affect at least 57,000 minimum wage earners across all four states.

After surviving a legal challenge last week, voters in Arkansas got the chance to decide at the polls if the minimum wage in their state should be raised. By a significant margin, they said yes. With most counties reporting, the measure to raise the minimum wage in the state passed 66 to 34 percent. That means minimum wage workers in Arkansas will see a few pay raises - first from $6.25 to $7.50 on Jan. 1, 2015 then twice more over the next two years, until it reaches $8.50 in 2017.

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The unemployment rate fell in 31 states in September, whilst 15 states unemployment rate stood below 5 percent, signaling a return to healthier labor-market conditions reports US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Forty-two states had unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier, five states had increases, and three states had no change. The US unemployment rate declined to 5.9 percent in September and was 1.3 percent lower than in September 2013.

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