Millions of workers will soon enjoy higher earnings in 2015, courtesy of changes to various states’ minimum wage rates.

As outlined in USA Today, twenty-one states have increased their minimum wages as the result of ballot initiatives, recently passed legislation, or automatic cost-of-living increases. The average state minimum wage will now be $8 an hour, which is higher than the federal minimum of $7.25. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and the National Employment Law Project report that 29 states with 60% of the work force will have higher minimum wages than the federal hourly rate.

Low-paid hourly workers have been pushing for increased wages for some time now. David Cooper, a senior economic analyst with EPI, believes fast food workers who have been demanding pay increases are partly responsible for some of the states’ decisions to increase wages. President Obama has supported a pending bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, but it has been met by some opposition in Congress.

Data from Payroll processor ADP shows that low-wage workers have had faster earning growths than higher-paid workers due to state minimum wage increases.  Lower paid employees tend to spend the majority of their paychecks, and EPI suggests that the new wage increases could pump an estimated $1.5 billion dollars into the economy.

The attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Complex Litigation Group are knowledgeable in all matters of state and federal wage laws. If you have questions regarding your compensation or rights as an employee, call us today.