All across the nation, people are recognizing that living on poverty wages is no way to live at all. As a result, minimum wages are going up, some to record highs. This week, the City of Seattle just set the record by approving a $15 minimum wage for its workers.
As reported on USAToday.com and elsewhere, the Seattle City Council’s wage hike will be phased in over several years to ease the effect on business owners, while ensuring that workers’ wages are lifted to a meaningful level. The hike will amount to a $5 increase when it is fully implemented, and at $15 an hour, it is well above the current $7.25 federal wage.
Sommers Schwartz partner and Wage Theft Attorney Jason Thompson commented on the news, “Many people don’t realize that states, let alone municipalities have the power to set minimum wages. Workers should become aware of the wage laws in effect where they work.”
Not all states avail themselves of the opportunity to set minimum wages for their workers. For example, Florida, Georgia, and Arizona have no meaningful wage laws. Other states have seized the opportunity to promote the economic well-being of their citizens, such as California, Nevada, and Illinois.
Michigan enacted a minimum wage law in 1964. Just this year, state legislators approved an increase to $9.20, which will gradually take effect by 2017. While the raise was well received by most, labor organizers were actually pursuing a $10.10 rate, consistent with Presidents Obama’s efforts to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10.