Senior Director of State Fiscal Research
Voters approved minimum wage increases in all four states — Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington — with Election Day ballot measures.
Minimum wage laws set the lowest hourly rate an employer can legally pay certain workers. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, and is long overdue for an increase. Where states and municipalities have enacted their own higher minimum wage laws, employers must pay at least the state or local minimum. States should enact their own, higher minimum wages so that full-time workers can make ends meet for their families. Today, a full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage and supporting two children lives below the poverty line. That’s how far below its historical value the minimum wage has fallen.
States can complement minimum wage increases with a stronger state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). These two policies are the twin pillars of making work pay for families that earn low wages. They boost income, widen the path to the middle class, and reduce the gap between high- and low-income households.