Approximately 647,000 minimum wage workers across the country will be ringing in this new year with a modest pay raise, as Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington are set to increase their minimum wages by nine to twelve cents on January 1. All seven of these states will have minimum wages above the federal level, which is currently $7.25 an hour, but Washington will have the highest at $8.67.
The salary boosts will provide essential help to workers who struggle to to keep up with the rising costs of living on an average minimum wage salary of about $15,000 a year. The increases may also boost the economy, since job gains in the wake of the recession seem to be disproportionately concentrate in low- and mid-wage industries such as food services, retail, manufacturing, and administrative and wastes services.
Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, pointed out that another benefit of raising the minimum wage is that those workers are the most likely to cycle their money back into the economy, since many of them can’t afford to save it.