Federal Minimum Wage Needs to Increase

Workers in more than 20 states, cities and counties will get a wage boost today, July 1, when higher minimum wages kick in — part of a nationwide push to ensure the nation’s lowest-paid workers are keeping up with the rising cost of living.

The hikes come as the federal minimum wage nears the 13th anniversary of its last increase, marking the longest period without an increase since the baseline wage was created in 1938. There are still 20 states, mostly in the South and Midwest, where the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour serves as the wage floor. That rate is below the poverty line of $8.38 for families of two or more, where one person is working.

The federal minimum wage was last increased on July 24, 2009, when it rose to $7.25 an hour. If that baseline wage had risen along with the nation’s productivity growth since 1968, it would have reached almost $21.50 an hour in 2020, according to an analysis from the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

It is worth considering what the world would look like if this were the case. A minimum wage of $21.50 an hour would mean that a full-time full year minimum wage worker would be earning $43,000 a year. A two minimum wage-earning couple would have a family income of $86,000 a year, enough to put them in the top quintile of the current income distribution.

In California, the following cities and counties are increasing their baseline wages on July 1:

  • Alameda: $15.75 an hour
  • Berkeley: $16.99 an hour
  • Emeryville: $17.48 an hour
  • Fremont: $16.00 an hour
  • Long Beach: $16.73/hour for hotel workers; $16.55 for concessionaire workers
  • Los Angeles City: $16.04 for all employers
  • Los Angeles County: $15.96 an hour
  • Malibu: $15.96 an hour
  • Milpitas: $16.40 an hour
  • Pasadena: $16.11 an hour
  • San Francisco City and County: $16.99 an hour
  • Santa Monica: $15.96 an hour
  • West Hollywood: $16.50 an hour for employers with more than 50 employees, or $16.00 an hour for employers with fewer than 50 employees. Hotel workers will earn $18.35 an hour.

For more, please visit our page on Minimum Wage & Overtime.

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