Washington among 21 states raising minimum wage on January 1

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The New Year will start well for over 3 million workers -- they're getting a raise. Employers in 21 states and Washington D.C. will hike their minimum wages on January 1, 2015.

The New Year will start well for over 3 million workers — they’re getting a raise. Employers in 21 states and Washington D.C. will hike their minimum wages on January 1, 2015.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The New Year will start well for over 3 million workers — they’re getting a raise.

Employers in 21 states and Washington D.C. will hike their minimum wages on January 1.

Washington’s minimum wage will increase 15 cents to $9.47 an hour.

This has been a huge year for low wage workers. Sparked by a wave of fast food and retail worker protests, more than a dozen states like Alaska, South Dakota and Nebraska and many cities such Seattle and Oakland have jumped on the momentum and passed new laws to raise the minimum wage.

“We’ve seen a historic number of states increasing their minimum wages,” said David Cooper, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, which researches minimum wage issues. “People’s understanding of where the wage floor should be has changed a lot, and in part caused by strikes and protests.”

It could certainly be a big day for Wayne Davis, who earns $8.25 an hour at McDonald’s in Tampa, Florida. Davis earns 20 cents more than Florida’s new minimum wage of $8.05. But workers across the board are likely see a pay bump, labor experts say.

“It’s stressful having to live off of minimum wage,” said 19-year-old Davis, who is hoping that he can help out his grandma, with whom he lives. Already, he pitches in $500 a month for household bills and is expecting his expenses to go up when he enrolls at the University of South Florida in January.

In 2015, a majority of states — 29 — will have a higher minimum wage than the federal wage, which is $7.25 an hour.

The city and state-led reforms are mounting pressure on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, but the needle hasn’t moved much there. Still, wages will likely remain a heated topic as the country enters the 2016 election cycle.

West Coast cities led the push for higher wages this year, breaking the $15 an hour barrier for the first time. Seattle and San Francisco passed $15 wage laws, while Los Angeles announced a significant wage hike too.

San Diego will raise its wage on New Year’s Day from $9 to $9.75 an hour with further increases in following years.

The debate next year will focus on how these cities are impacted by the wage increases. Critics say it will take away jobs while advocates argue that workers will be able to spend more money.

“It certainly has been a long time since we’ve seen a big day like this,” says Chris Tilly, a wage expert and professor at University of California, Los Angeles. “People are concerned about inequality. This is a reform that targets inequality.”

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  • Larry Lawson

    Minimum wage jobs are usually entry level jobs or for high school students or it was when I was 16 years old. If you want better pay you had to get an education and put in the effort. If you raise the minimum wage to 15.00 dollars an hour what kind of message do you think it sends to our young people? Why do I need an education, I can flip burgers and make 15.00 bucks an hour. You are sending the wrong message by raising the minimum wage. Let’s get real here.

    • Kenneth Briggs

      yep back in the 60s you could find a nice place to live in the bay area . but today you need #15 ;00 a hour to have even a flop house to live in . rents are so high now days that mim does not pay the rent ., But hope our friend Larry has a real good job and is buying a home and a new car and all that . but real goods job are not around all the time . lets hope his butt has a forever job where he does not get laid off or fired and he has to get some type of work to pay the bills .

  • Brenda Lin (@BrendaLin11)

    A record number of people are living below their means. The democrats wants to raise the minimum wage to some absurd number without understanding the damage it would cause.

    The “Affordable” Care Act has been nothing short of a disaster. My health insurance bill is up to $450/month. (Compare this to my $25/month auto insurance from Insurance Panda or my $10/month renters insurance from Eagle… both private enterprise!)

    The economy is still a wreck despite reports trying to paint rosy pictures. Millions of people are stuck with part time or low paying jobs when their qualifications dictate they should be earning much more.

    Foreign policy is a huge mess. Obama has done next to nothing right here. Huge swaths of the middle east is under the control of the most radicalized, extreme terrorists the world has ever known. All of the work, blood, sweat, tears, limbs and lives spent securing a better future for citizens of the Middle East has been wiped out in a matter of months. The democratically elected leaders of Iraq now have an invading army 25 miles from the capital.

    Russia and China now bully around the US and Obama just takes it.

    Obama is firing over 100,000 active duty soldiers which hurts military readiness. On top of this, he is pushing an initiative to recruit 5,000 illegal immigrants per month to fill the ranks. This is dropping the collective education and moral levels of the armed forces.

    I could literally fill up entire pages with the mess that democrats and Obama have made over the last 6 years.