Economic Snapshot | Wages, Incomes, and Wealth

State minimum wages on the ballot

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Snapshot for October 25, 2006.

State minimum wages on the ballot

By Liana Fox

In less than two weeks, voters in six states will be given the opportunity to raise wages for as many as 1.5 million workers. Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and Ohio all have initiatives on their ballots to raise their state’s minimum wage and tie future increases to a cost-of-living index. The amount of these increases ranges from $1.00/hour in Nevada and Montana to $1.70/hour in Colorado and Ohio. If all six states pass the initiatives, as many as  652,000 children would benefit from their parent’s wage increase.

Minimum wage action in the states

In response to the declining purchasing power of the federal minimum wage (see Nine Years of Neglect: Federal Minimum Wage Remains Unchanged for Ninth Straight Year, Falls to Lowest Level in More than Half a Century), states across the country are acting to set their own minimum wages. Currently 22 states plus the District of Columbia have minimum wages above the federal rate. Ten states have raised their wage floors this year alone. If these six initiatives pass, 70% of the U.S. workforce will live in a state with a minimum wage higher than the federal level.

On December 2, 2006, the United States will set a record for the longest period of time ever without a federal minimum wage increase. Due to this federal inaction, the minimum wage is at its lowest real value in over 50 years and continues to decline. On November 7, voters in six states will decide whether to allow this damaging trend to continue or to take matters into their own hands and provide a much-needed boost for their lowest-paid workers.


Proposed minimum wage

Number of workers affected


$6.75 + indexing



$6.85 + indexing



$6.50 + indexing



$6.15 + indexing



$6.15 + indexing



$6.85 + indexing





See also Table 5 from EPI’s Minimum Wage Issue Guide: State minimum wages greater than the federal minimum wage (as of October 2, 2006)Acrobat (PDF)

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