Yesterday, voters in Arizona, Colorado, and Maine voted to raise their state minimum wages to $12 by 2020. In Washington, voters approved a measure to raise the state minimum wage to $13.50 by 2020. EPI estimates that these increases will raise the wages of over 2 million workers. Legislative increases passed earlier this year in California, New York, Oregon, the District of Columbia, and roughly a dozen cities and counties will also establish minimum wages of $12 or higher by 2020, raising the wages of millions more.
With 17 states and dozens of cities and counties passing higher minimum wages over the past three years, there is a clear desire among the American people to establish minimum wages that ensure every job provides a decent wage. Yet there are still 21 states where workers are being paid as little as $7.25 per hour—a value that Congress set for the federal minimum wage nearly 10 years ago. Letting the federal minimum wage stagnate year after year leaves millions of working Americans struggling to makes ends meet. The purchasing power of the federal minimum wage has eroded by 10 percent since it was last raised and by 25 percent since the late 1960s. We hope that the incoming Congress recognizes that millions of Americans are clamoring for a higher federal minimum wage. It is time that Congress listens to them.