Workers in 18 states will get a pay hike next week when higher wage floors go into effect around the country for 2018. With the Federal minimum wage remaining just $7.25 per hour, more and more states have opted to implement their own, higher rates that local employers must observe. Many of the bumps slated for New Year’s Day come courtesy of recent ballot initiatives approved by voters or bills passed by statehouses. Some of those states have laws requiring that the minimum wage is adjusted each year according to an inflation index, to rise with the cost of living. So several of the raises amount to less than .25 an hour. (Alaska has a 0.04 increase to $9.84). But other states that recently enacted new laws will have more significant increases. Maine’s will move a full dollar, to $10. Hawaii’s will rise .85, to $10.10, and Colorado’s will increase .90 to $10.20. The raises will impact 4.5 million workers The federal minimum wage hasn’t budged in more than 8 years and prevails in any state that doesn’t mandate a higher one. Labor Unions and low-wage workers have succeeded in getting raises passed on the state and local levels as the federal rate has stayed stagnant. Dozens of cities and counties have also raised their minimum wages beyond the state and federal levels. In some cases, the hikes have gone as high as $15/hr-the stated goal of the Fight for $15 campaign, the Union-backed movement that began with striking fast-food workers in 2012 but soon spread to other low-wage industries. All that success by activists has prompted a backlash from Republican state lawmakers seeking to rein in minimum wage hikes. More than 2 dozen states now have “preemption” laws on their books that block localities from implementing their own raises. Just this year, Republicans in Missouri passed a preemption law to retroactively kill a minimum wage hike enacted by city leaders in St. Louis. Under the new law, no locality could have a wage floor higher that the one mandated by the state. The new law had the effect of reversing St. Louis’ minimum wage, taking it from $10 to the current state level of $7.70.
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