The eight states listed below increased the hourly minimum wage to the dollar amounts shown, on the effective date of January 1, 2012.
- Arizona $7.65
- Colorado $7.64
- Florida $7.67
- Montana $7.65
- Ohio $7.70
- Oregon $8.80
- Vermont $8.46
- Washington $9.04
Update 2/5: Legislatures in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey and New York are considering raising the minimum wage. On March 1 the minimum wage (living wage) in Santa Fe, New Mexico will increase to $10.29 per hour, the highest in the U.S.
The hourly rates above are for the “standard” minimum wage. Under federal minimum wage law, states may allow employers to pay lower than the standard based on certain factors such as tips, commissions and the age of minors. The lower rate is sometimes referred to as the subminimum wage and its governing rules vary by state.
The eight states increased the minimum wage because inflation occurred in each last year. All are among ten that have incorporated annual cost-of-living adjustments into state minimum wage laws based on the consumer price index (CPI), a measure of inflation or deflation.
Missouri and Nevada make up the remainder of the ten, but those states neither increased nor decreased the rate for 2012. Colorado is the only state to have ever decreased its rate based on deflation. Since then, the state has twice increased its rate based on inflation.
According to data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, none of the other states (or U.S. territories) have planned a 2012 minimum wage rate increase to date. Meanwhile, the federal minimum wage is likely to remain at its current rate of $7.25 per hour throughout 2012.
Twenty-three states have minimum wage rates that are the same as the federal rate of $7.25, while 18 states have rates that are higher and four have rates that are lower. Five states, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee, don’t have a state minimum wage. Washington state has the highest hourly rate at $9.04 and is the first state to exceed $9.00. Georgia and Wyoming are tied for the lowest at $5.15.
More about the Minimum Wage
In the four states that have hourly rates lower than the federal rate, employers must pay at least the federal minimum wage to eligible employees. States set rates that are lower than the federal rate, presumably so that employees who are not eligible for the federal rate receive at least a modest fixed amount in hourly wages.
In the five states that don’t have a minimum wage, employers must pay at least the federal rate to eligible employees. The federal minimum wage always rules in states that have a lower or no minimum wage.
To research the minimum wage in your work state, such as to look up the current rate, eligibility requirements, applicable laws or how to file a wage complaint, browse the Web site of the relevant state labor department. Look for minimum wage, wage and hour or similar topics.
Consult an attorney for legal advice about the minimum wage.