"The voters understand that we cannot build a recovery on low-wage jobs – and when elected officials don't get the message, the voters will take action to raise wages on their own," Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, said in a statement.
"This not only a big victory for thousands of workers in New Jersey and SeaTac, but also a clear signal that the public is anxious for progress to create more living wage jobs," Owens said.
Voters in New Jersey approved raising the minimum wage across the state by $1 to $8.25 per hour with a law that also mandates cost-of-living adjustments.
The raise will affect paychecks of 427,000 workers in the state and generate $174 million in economic growth, NELP said.
"At $7.25, the minimum wage has less buying power now than it did in 1950," Director of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, Holly Sklar said in a statement.
"New Jersey joins New York, Connecticut and California in taking action this year to raise their state minimums while the federal minimum wage is stuck in the past," she said.
In SeaTac, Wash., a city of 27,000 people, voters approved a minimum wage hike to $15 per hour that boosts the pay of 6,300 transportation workers at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport and workers in hospitality trades.
The new minimum wage on both initiatives will take affect on Jan. 1. In SeaTac, it will raise the average paycheck 36 percent, CNNMoney reported.
"This means that the people who put fuel in jets may actually be able to buy a ticket on one," said David Rolf, a vice president of the Service Employees International Union told the Seattle Times.
Rolf said voters had been waiting for politicians to make a move, but then they got tired of waiting.
"People have been waiting a really long time for this," he said.