A state-by-state guide to minimum wage

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A state-by-state guide to minimum wage

Minimum wage determines how much millions of workers are paid. And in many states, it’s constantly changing.

Nineteen states raised their minimum wages on Jan. 1, 2019, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank focused on the working class. The increases, ranging from a 5-cent inflation adjustment in Alaska to a $2 boost in New York, will affect more than 5.2 million workers across the country. Workers may see their annual wages increase anywhere between $90 and $1,300, depending on where they live.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. This hasn’t changed in a decade. The last federal minimum wage legislation was in 2009, from $6.55 to $7.25 per hour.

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Why do state set their own minimum wages?

“It fills in the cracks of what the federal minimum wage doesn’t cover,” said Charles Brown, labor economist and professor at the University of Michigan.

Exceptions to the federal ruling include workers with disabilities, students, workers under a certain age, tipped employees and some small businesses. Wages for these groups are governed by state minimum wage laws.

Some states have increased their minimum wages on their own, while other states’ minimum wage rose with the federal level. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages higher than the federal level. Certain cities have set their minimum wages higher than those of their states. In those cases, the employee is entitled to the higher of the two wages.

Brown said this created an inequality between different states, leading to a renewed interest in raising the federal minimum wage. Some potential presidential candidates have made a $15 federal minimum wage part of their 2020 platform.

Here's a look at the minimum wage rates for each state.

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The debate over minimum wage

People disagree about whether the minimum wage has a positive, negative or neutral effect on the economy.

“It’s hard to understand the economic implications,” said Brown.

Raising the federal rate would raise the standard of living for impoverished workers, potentially raise workers’ income levels above the poverty level and reduce gender and race-based income inequality, said Lee Adler, a labor, criminal law and civil rights professor at Cornell University.

“People become trapped making minimum wage and cannot raise their quality of life,” he said. “[Raising the minimum wage] provides real opportunities for people. It affects the country only positively.”

The popular argument against raising the minimum wage is that it would kill jobs. Gary Wolfram, professor of economics and public policy at Hillsdale College, said it would cause unemployment among low-skilled workers and prompt a push for machinery to replace human workers.

“It will hurt local businesses that can’t set up the infrastructure to pay their workers higher wages,” he said.

Wolfram said while it may be logical for higher-earning states like New York to raise their minimum wage, it doesn’t make sense for states with a lower cost of living to be forced to pay the same amount to their workers. He said this will just lead to job losses.

Minimum wage for tipped workers

The minimum wage for workers who receive tips is often, but not always, different from the minimum wage. The federal rate is $2.13 an hour. Some states require employers to pay tipped employees the full state minimum wage before tips. Other states require employers to pay tipped employees a lower minimum wage, as long as it’s above the federal tipped minimum wage. And some states allow their tipped minimum wage to be the same as the federal rate.

This map shows the tipped minimum wage in each state:

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Here’s a breakdown of the hourly minimum wage in each state. Unless noted, all information on recent legislation applies only to statewide minimum wage, not subminimum wage for tipped workers. There are exceptions for certain businesses not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, or businesses not offering health benefits.
The bottom line: Understanding minimum wage is complicated. Check with your state’s Department of Labor website to get more information on minimum wage where you live.

Alabama

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Most recent increase: n/a
Most recent major law change: n/a

Alaska

2019 minimum wage: $9.89
2019 tipped minimum wage: $9.89
Most recent increase: from $9.84, effective Jan. 1, 2019
Most recent major law change: 2014, by ballot measure

Arizona

2019 minimum wage: $11
2019 tipped minimum wage: $8
Most recent increase: from $10.50, effective Jan. 1, 2019. Will rise to $12 on Jan. 1, 2020.
Most recent major law change: 2016, by ballot measure

Arkansas

2019 minimum wage: $9.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.63
Most recent increase: from $8.50, effective Jan. 1, 2019. Will rise to $10 on Jan 1, 2020.
Most recent major law change: 2018, by ballot measure

California

2019 minimum wage: $12
2019 tipped minimum wage: $12
Most recent increase: from $11, effective Jan. 1, 2019. Will rise to $13 on Jan. 1, 2020.
Most recent major law change: 2016, by legislation

Colorado

2019 minimum wage: $11.10
2019 tipped minimum wage: $8.08
Most recent increase: from $10.20, effective Jan. 1, 2019. Will rise to $12 on Jan. 1, 2020.
Most recent major law change: 2016, by ballot measure

Connecticut

2019 minimum wage: $10.10
2019 tipped minimum wage: $6.38
Most recent increase: from $9.60, effective Jan. 1, 2017.
Most recent major law change: 2014, by legislation

Delaware

2019 minimum wage: $8.75
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.23
Most recent increase: from $8.25, effective Jan. 1, 2019. Will rise again to $9.25 on Oct. 1, 2019.
Most recent major law change: 2018, by legislation

Florida

2019 minimum wage: $8.46
2019 tipped minimum wage: $5.44
Most recent increase: from $8.25, effective Jan. 1, 2019
Most recent major law change: 2004, by constitutional amendment

Georgia

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Most recent increase: n/a
Most recent major law change: n/a

Hawaii

2019 minimum wage: $10.10
2019 tipped minimum wage: $9.35
Most recent increase: from $9.25, effective Jan. 1, 2018
Most recent major law change: 2014, by legislation

Idaho

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $3.35
Most recent increase: n/a
Most recent major law change: n/a

Illinois

2019 minimum wage: $8.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $4.95
Most recent increase: from $8, effective July 1, 2010. Will rise to $9.25 on Jan. 1, 2020.
Most recent major law change: 2019, by legislation

Indiana

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Most recent increase: n/a
Most recent major law change: n/a

Iowa

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $4.35
Most recent increase: to $7.25, effective Jan. 1, 2008
Most recent major law change: n/a

Kansas

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Most recent increase: from $6.55, effective July 1, 2009
Most recent major law change: 2009, by legislation

Kentucky

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Most recent increase: from $6.55, effective July 1, 2009
Most recent major law change: 2007, by legislation

Louisiana

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Most recent increase: n/a
Most recent major law change: n/a

Maine

2019 minimum wage: $11
2019 tipped minimum wage: $5.50
Most recent increase: from $10, effective Jan. 1, 2019. Will rise to $12 on Jan. 1, 2020.
Most recent major law change: 2016, by ballot measure

Maryland

2019 minimum wage: $10.10
2019 tipped minimum wage: $3.63
Most recent increase: from $9.25, effective July 1, 2018
Most recent major law change: 2014, by legislation

Massachusetts

2019 minimum wage: $12
2019 tipped minimum wage: $4.35
Most recent increase: from $11, effective Jan. 1, 2019. Will rise to $12.75 on Jan. 1, 2020.
Most recent major law change: 2018, by legislation

Michigan

2019 minimum wage: $9.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $3.52
Most recent increase: from $8.90, effective Jan. 1, 2019. Will rise to $9.45 on April 1, 2019.
Most recent major law change: 2018, by legislation

Minnesota

2019 minimum wage: $9.86
2019 tipped minimum wage: $9.86
Most recent increase: from $9.65, effective Jan. 1, 2019
Most recent major law change: 2014, by legislation

Mississippi

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Most recent increase: n/a
Most recent major law change: n/a

Missouri

2019 minimum wage: $8.60
2019 tipped minimum wage: $4.30
Most recent increase: from $7.85, effective Jan. 1, 2019. Will rise to $9.45 on Jan. 1, 2020.
Most recent major law change: 2018, by ballot measure

Montana

2019 minimum wage: $8.50
2019 tipped minimum wage: $8.50
Most recent increase: from $8.30, effective Jan. 1, 2019
Most recent major law change: 2006, by ballot measure

Nebraska

2019 minimum wage: $9.00
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Most recent increase: from $8, effective Jan. 1, 2016
Most recent major law change: 2014, by ballot measure

Nevada

2019 minimum wage: $8.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $8.25
Most recent increase: from $7.55, effective Jan. 1, 2014
Most recent major law change: 2006, by constitutional amendment

New Hampshire

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $3.26
Most recent increase: n/a
Most recent major law change: 2011, by legislation

New Jersey

2019 minimum wage: $8.85
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Most recent increase: from $8.60, effective Jan. 1, 2019
Most recent major law change: 2019, by legislation. Will rise to $10 July 1, 2019.

New Mexico

2019 minimum wage: $7.50
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Most recent increase: from $6.50, effective Jan. 1, 2009
Most recent major law change: 2007

New York

2019 minimum wage: $11.10
2019 tipped minimum wage: $7.50
Most recent increase: from $10.40, effective Dec. 31, 2018. Will rise to $11.80 on Dec. 31, 2019.
Most recent major law change: 2016, by legislation

North Carolina

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Most recent increase: from $6.55 effective 2010.
Most recent major law change: n/a

North Dakota

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $4.86
Most recent increase: from $6.55, effective June 24, 2009
Most recent major law change: 2007, by legislation

Ohio

2019 minimum wage: $8.55
2019 tipped minimum wage: $4.30
Most recent increase: from $8.30, effective Jan. 1, 2019
Most recent major law change: 2006, by constitutional amendment

Oklahoma

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Most recent increase: from $6.55, effective June 24, 2009
Most recent major law change: n/a

Oregon

2019 minimum wage: $10.75
2019 tipped minimum wage: $10.75
Most recent increase: from $10.25, effective July 1, 2018. Will rise to $11.25 on July 1, 2019.
Most recent major law change: 2016, by legislation

Pennsylvania

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.83
Most recent increase: From $7.15, effective 2010.
Most recent major law change: n/a

Rhode Island

2019 minimum wage: $10.50
2019 tipped minimum wage: $3.89
Most recent increase: from $10.10, effective Jan. 1, 2019
Most recent major law change: 2017, by legislation

South Carolina

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Most recent increase: n/a
Most recent major law change: n/a

South Dakota

2019 minimum wage: $9.10
2019 tipped minimum wage: $4.55
Most recent increase: from $8.85, effective Jan. 1, 2019
Most recent major law change: 2014, by ballot measure

Tennessee

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Most recent increase: n/a
Most recent major law change: n/a

Texas

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Most recent increase: from $6.55, effective 2010
Most recent major law change: n/a

Utah

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Most recent increase: from $6.55, effective 2010
Most recent major law change: n/a

Vermont

2019 minimum wage: $10.78
2019 tipped minimum wage: $5.39
Most recent increase: from $10.50, effective Jan. 1, 2019
Most recent major law change: 2014, by legislation

Virginia

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Most recent increase: From $6.55, effective 2010.
Most recent major law change: n/a

Washington

2019 minimum wage: $12
2019 tipped minimum wage: $12
Most recent increase: from $11.50, effective Jan. 1, 2019. Will rise to $13.50 on Jan. 1, 2020.
Most recent major law change: 2016, by legislation

Washington, D.C.

2019 minimum wage: $13.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $3.89
Most recent increase: from $11.50, effective July 1, 2018. Will rise to $14 on July 1, 2019.
Most recent major law change: 2016, by city council ordinance

West Virginia

2019 minimum wage: $8.75
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.62
Most recent increase: from $8, effective Dec. 31, 2015
Most recent major law change: 2014, by legislation

Wisconsin

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.33
Most recent increase: from $6.55, effective June 1, 2009
Most recent major law change: n/a

Wyoming

2019 minimum wage: $7.25
2019 tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Most recent increase: from $6.50, effective 2010
Most recent major law change: 2001, by legislation

Get familiar with the laws and benefits for workers in your state. Check out our state-by-state guide to workers' compensation here.

Image: Sharon McClutcheon