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20 states boost minimum wage, some by just pennies

By Glenn Singer
20 states boost minimum wage, some by just pennies
Restaurant workers often are among those who receive the minimum wage. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 1 (UPI) -- With the start of the new year, 20 states have raised their minimum wage -- by as much as $1.50 per hour and as little as 8 cents.

For some workers, the increases will help their families whose bread earners have been hard-hit by the coronavirus and are trying to make ends meet. For others, miniscule increases won't make much of a dent.

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"We have lots of low-wage, service workers who are working through the COVID crisis, many of whom are in jobs with a greater risk of transmission," Ken Jacobs, chair of the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California-Berkeley told CNN.

"This will be a very welcome boost for them. As well, a lot of families are struggling right now in this crisis," Jacobs said.

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The biggest minimum wage jump comes in New Mexico, which raised the required salary by $1.50, to $10.50. The tiniest increase comes in Minnesota, where workers will gain an additional 8 cents an hour, to $10.08.

Among states with big increases are Arkansas (up $1 to $11), California (up $1 to $14), Illinois (up $1 to $11) and New Jersey (up $1 to $12).

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Among those with small increases are Alaska (up $15 cents to $10.34), Arizona (up 15 cents to $12.15), Florida (up 9 cents to $8.65), Maine (up 15 cents to $12.15), Montana (up 10 cents to $8.75), Ohio (up 10 cents to $8.80), South Dakota (up 15 cents to $9.45) and Washington (up 19 cents to $13.69).

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Other states providing increases are Colorado (32 cents to $12.32), Maryland (75 cents to $11.75), Massachusetts (75 cents to $13.50), New York (70 cents to $12.50) and Vermont (79 cents to $11.75).

New York city, however, has a $15-per-hour minimum wage, and certain suburban areas are higher than the $12.50, as well.

Some states are not permitted by law to increase the minimum wage under certain conditions. for example, Michigan, a state law requires that the annual unemployment average fall below 8.5%. Unemployment there stood at 10.2 percent through 12 months of 2020, making it impossible to bring the average below the mandated minimum.

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The federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 per hour, and 20 states -- most in the South and West --have a minimum either equal to or below that amount.

The minimum wage increases this year "are an indication that people understand how much the $7.25 federal minimum wage keeps people in poverty," Holly Sklar, chief executive officer of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, told CBS News.

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