An increase to the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is not anticipated in 2011. However, the seven states listed below increased the minimum wage on the effective date of January 1, 2011, to the hourly rates shown.
- Arizona $7.35
- Colorado $7.36
- Montana $7.35
- Ohio $7.40
- Oregon $8.50
- Vermont $8.15
- Washington $8.67
Update: See Minimum Wage 2012.
Update: The Huffington Post reported that Colorado, Montana, Ohio, Oregon and Washington announced 2012 minimum wage increases, ranging from 28 to 37 cents per hour. Washington will increase its hourly rate the most for a total of $9.04, making it the first state to exceed $9.00. Arizona, Florida and Vermont are expected to also announce hourly rate hikes for 2012, according to the Post. All of the hikes are thanks to cost-of-living adjustments required by wage and hour laws in the states mentioned.
The rate increases are for the “regular” minimum wage. Under federal minimum wage law, states may permit employers to pay a lower hourly rate, sometimes referred to as a subminimum wage, based on certain factors; examples include age (minors), tips, commissions and employer gross revenue.
The seven states are among ten that link the minimum wage rate to the state consumer price index (CPI), a measure of inflation or deflation (and subsequently, the cost of living). The remaining three, Florida, Missouri and Nevada, did not increase the rate based on the CPI; but, they didn’t decrease it either as Colorado did last year, based on deflation. According to news reports at the time, it was the only state to have ever decreased its minimum wage rate, deflation or not.
To date, none of the other states have planned to implement a 2011 minimum wage increase, according to information (or the lack thereof) at the Web sites of the federal and state labor departments. The same goes for the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. However, thanks to a minimum wage increase implemented by over half the states in 2009, most already require employers to pay hourly rates that are equal to or greater than the current federal rate of $7.25.
Four states and Puerto Rico have 2011 minimum wage rates that are lower than the current federal rate, and five states don’t even have a state minimum wage. With $5.59 as the highest, American Samoa has special industrial wages in 2011 that are lower than the federal rate, but that will gradually catch up in subsequent years. Among the states, Washington has the highest 2011 minimum wage at $8.67, while Georgia and Wyoming have the lowest at $5.15.
States set minimum wage rates that are lower than the federal rate, presumably to ensure that workers who are not covered by the federal minimum wage law receive at least a minimum, set amount in hourly wages under state law.
About the Minimum Wage
The minimum wage is the least dollar amount per hour that employers must pay to non-exempt employees as mandated by state or federal law, or in some cases, municipal law (such as in San Francisco). Non-exempt employees are covered by whichever law at the municipal, state or federal level is the most generous.
In the five states that don’t have their own minimum wage laws, non-exempt employees are covered by the federal minimum wage law, entitled the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA always rules in states that have less-generous minimum wage laws or none at all.
For details about the minimum wage in your work state, such as the current rate, eligibility requirements, applicable laws and how to file a wage complaint, start by browsing the Web site of the state labor department. Look for “minimum wage,” “wage and hour” or related topics.
Consult a lawyer for legal advice regarding the minimum wage.