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National Restaurant Association - Four states increase minimum wage

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Four states increase minimum wage

California will become the state with the highest minimum wage in the country in 2016. Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed the new law, which increases the minimum wage from $8 an hour to $9 next July and $10 in January 2016.

Three other states also passed minimum wage increases in 2013. Connecticut and New York will increase their rates to $9 by 2015 and 2016, respectively. Rhode Island wages will go to $8 in 2014. Business leaders in all four states convinced lawmakers to reject automatically increasing minimum wage rates based on inflation.

Restaurant operators should prepare to see more legislative action on minimum wage in 2014, said Brendan Flanagan, National Restaurant Association vice president of state and local affairs.

“More than twice as many states introduced minimum wage increase legislation in 2013 compared to last year,” said Flanagan. “In 2012, only one state passed an increase, but four were enacted this year.”

NRA research shows that minimum wage increases have caused restaurant owners to raise prices, reduce staff, decrease employee hours, and postpone hiring plans.

Citing business concerns, the governors of Maine and New Mexico vetoed wage increase legislation this year.

 “Too many people are worried about the bare minimum, wages or otherwise,” Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) said upon vetoing the increase. “It is time to aim higher than the minimum. We must create the environment for well-paying careers, to give hardworking families an opportunity to succeed.  Mainers deserve more than the minimum, and if we give them the opportunity, they will earn it.”

Dick Grotton, president and CEO of the Maine Restaurant Association, applauded the governor’s veto and said that the restaurant industry is proud of its record in providing entry-level jobs and allowing rapid advancement and reward for employees.

The tally of states increasing their wages may increase in November, when voters in New Jersey will consider a ballot initiative to increase the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25, with automatic indexing after that. In SeaTac, Washington, a suburb of Seattle, an initiative on November’s ballot aims to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 with automatic indexing for large employers of many of the town’s restaurant and transportation employees.  The SeaTac measure makes a number of other changes, including mandating many private-sector employers to provide paid sick leave.

Three of the 10 states that automatically increase their minimum wages with inflation have announced their annual cost-of-living minimum wage increases for 2014: Washington’s minimum wage will increase from $9.19 to $9.32 on Jan. 1?, Oregon’s from $8.55 to $9.10, and Montana’s from $7.80 to $7.90. Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Nevada, and Vermont have not announced their increases yet.

Nineteen states and four cities currently set a minimum wage rate higher than the federal level of $7.25. The four cities that have established their own minimum wage rates: San Francisco ($10.55), San Jose ($10), Albuquerque ($8.50), and Santa Fe ($10.51).

View the current state wage rates and the 2013 legislation map.


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