Recent Efforts to Raise Minimum Wage

In Minnesota and nationwide, low-income families struggle to make ends meet. More than 15 million workers earn the national minimum wage. If employed full-time, these employees are making only $15,080 a year, a number below the national poverty line for a family of two. Some cities and states have recently bolstered their efforts to raise minimum wage laws to meet today’s economic demands. Advocates for minimum wage hikes argue that real wages (adjusted for inflation) have consistently dropped and that the income divide is only widening.

New Jersey voters have approved a new minimum wage law that raises the minimum wage by one dollar to $8.25. The law also sets the wage to increase automatically with inflation. According to the National Conference of Legislatures, New Jersey is the fifth state to include minimum wage in its state constitution and the 11th to include automatic wage increases. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2014.

State minimum wages vary; the highest is in the State of Washington with a minimum wage of $9.19. Even with the highest state minimum wage, the City of Seattle is currently campaigning to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. If the law passes, all workers, including fast food workers, baristas, retail clerks and other workers will be paid $15.00 hour. If passed, the city will beat out San Francisco for the highest minimum wage, which is currently set at $10.50 for all workers.

There are 18 states with minimum wage laws above the federal minimum. Raising minimum wages helps workers move towards economic security. As the cost of living rises, it is necessary for minimum wage laws to meet the needs of today’s workers and their families. Advocates also argue that creating a higher minimum wage boosts statewide spending and can improve economic conditions on a wider scale. Critics of minimum wage increases argue that the cost will fall to small business owners who will be required to cut hours and employees to comply with the law.

Despite its reputation for being a liberal, pro-employee state, Minnesota has one of the lowest minimum wages in the country. Minnesota’s minimum wage is $5.25 for employees of companies that gross less than $625,000 per year and at $6.15 for employees at larger companies. The majority of Minnesotans earn the higher federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Legislators are hoping to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 in next year’s legislative session. Though the Minnesota House and Senate must work out their differences, the House has already passed a measure to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2015.

Wage and hour laws can be complicated and Minnesota workers may need advocacy. Low-income earners are also at risk of wage theft, failure to pay overtime, and other employment law violations. If you believe that you have suffered a wage violation, our attorneys want to hear from you. Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta is dedicated to protecting the rights of workers throughout Minnesota. We will review your wage and hour claim and take legal action to protect your income and your rights.