Minimum wage is the lowest hourly wage that an employer can pay an employee for labor. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) set the first federal minimum wage at $0.25 per hour for covered workers. The minimum wage has since then increased a total of 22 times, the most recent in 2009. The Federal Minimum Wage in the United States is currently $7.25 per hour, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); however, several states have raised their minimum wage higher than the federal minimum. If the state, city, or county minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage, employers are required to pay their workers the higher amount.
There are several resources online that provided state and city minimum wages. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) published a table reflecting current state minimum wages as of January 1st, 2019.
29 states and D.C. currently have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage of $7.25. The highest minimum wage among these states is $12, which Washington, California, and Massachusetts have adopted. Washington D.C. currently has the highest minimum wage in the United States at $13.25.
Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee have not adopted a state minimum wage and therefore have adopted the $7.25 federal minimum wage. New Hampshire repealed its state minimum in 2011, adopting the $7.25 minimum as well.
The five highest minimum wages in the United States are located as follows:
- Washington D.C. at $13.25
- California, Massachusetts, and Washington at $12.00
- New York and Colorado at $11.10
- Vermont at $10.78
- Oregon at $10.75
The lowest minimum wage in the United States is $5.15, set by Georgia and Wyoming. Employees who are covered under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act will be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25; however, those who are not covered under the FSLA may be paid $5.15.
According to this information from the NCSL, several states have enacted legislation to raise their minimum wages by increments over the next several years. One example of these states is New Jersey, where the minimum wage will increase by $1.00 on January 1st of every year until it reaches $15.00 by January 1st, 2024. Other states who have also enacted future increases to reach a $15.00 minimum wage over the next several years are:
- New York (rate adjusted for inflation after 12/31/2020 until it reaches $15.00)
- Massachusetts (effective 1/1/2023)
- Illinois (effective 1/1/2025)
- Maryland (effective 1/1/2025)
- California (effective 1/1/2022)
- Washington D.C. (effective 7/1/2020)
Two states have enacted gradual increases to a minimum wage of $13.50:
- Oregon (effective 7/1/2022)
- Washington (effective 1/1/2020)
- Six states have enacted gradual increases to a minimum wage of $12:
- Arizona (effective 1/1/2020)
- Colorado (effective 1/1/2020)
- Maine (effective 1/1/2020)
- Michigan ($12.05 effective 2030)
- Missouri (effective 1/1/2023)
- New Mexico (effective 1/1/2023)
Some states have two minimum wages, depending on specific employment conditions. For example, Nevada’s minimum wage for an employee who receives health benefits is $7.25 and the minimum wage for those who do not receive health benefits is $8.25. In Montana, the minimum wage for businesses with gross annual sales of $110,000 or less is $4.00; however, the minimum wage is $8.10 for all other businesses.
Several states have different minimum wages for tipped workers vs. non-tipped workers. The minimum wage for tipped workers can be as low as $2.13 per hour in some states (the federal minimum wage for tipped employees), but some states require that tipped employees are paid the state’s minimum wage for non-tipped employees.
Below is a complete table of the minimum wage by state as of January 1st, 2019.