Progress on the Minimum Wage

After years of stagnating wages for working Americans and inaction by Congress, legislators and activists across the country are taking the lead in securing higher minimum wages on a state by state basis. They are achieving some outstanding results. Here's where the minimum wage fight stands in a number of states:

  • Arizona: The Arizona Minimum Wage Coalition submitted over 200,000 signatures to qualify a minimum wage hike for the ballot. The initiative would increase the minimum to $6.75 an hour and tie it to cost-of-living adjustments. Polling shows widespread support for the measure.
  • Arkansas: In April, Governor Mike Huckabee signed a bill increasing the minimum wage to $6.25 an hour. The measure had received only three "no" votes in the legislature, making it the first Southern legislature to pass a minimum wage higher than the federal standard of $5.15.
  • California: The state Assembly and Senate have adopted measures to increase California's current minimum wage of $6.75 by one dollar and to peg the hike to cost-of-living adjustments. Legislative leaders are fighting with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is attempting to remove the pegging.
  • Colorado: Union activists and others are petitioning to qualify a minimum wage hike for the ballot. The proposed hike would raise Colorado's minimum from $5.15 to $6.85. The Colorado Progressive Coalition is helping organize on the issue.
  • Delaware: Governor Ruth Ann Minner signed a minimum wage bill increasing Delaware's minimum wage an additional dollar over the present state minimum -- to $7.15 an hour by 2008.
  • Louisiana: This state currently has no minimum wage and they recently allowed a bill to die that would have remedied that situation. The bill would have established a state minimum wage of $6.15 an hour.
  • Maine: Governor John Baldacci signed a minimum wage increase earlier this year, bringing Maine's minimum to $7 an hour.
  • Maryland: The legislature overturned Governor Robert Ehrlich's veto of minimum wage legislation. The measure increased the minimum wage to $6.15 an hour.
  • Massachusetts: Governor Mitt Romney has until Sunday to sign or veto a minimum wage bill raising Massachusetts' minimum to $8 an hour. A new study shows the measure would give 36,000 workers a raise.
  • Michigan: Governor Jennifer Granholm signed a measure to increase Michigan's minimum wage to $7.40 by 2008.
  • Missouri: Give Missourians a Raise gathered 210,000 signatures to qualify a minimum wage hike for the ballot this November. The measure raises Missouri's minimum to $6.50 an hour. St. Louis Jobs With Justice has a webform for interested volunteers.
  • Montana: Raise Montana turned in more than enough signatures to qualify their measure for the ballot. The measure will increase Montana's minimum wage to $6.15 and index it to cost-of-living adjustments. Check out for more info.
  • Nevada: Nevada's voters already approved the minimum wage increase in 2004, but in Nevada, questions must be submitted to the voters twice to become law. This fall, Nevada will vote again on a measure that increases the minimum wage to $6.15 an hour for employers who do not provide benefits. The wage would be indexed to cost-of-living adjustments.
  • North Carolina: Governor Mike Easley signed a measure to increase the minimum wage to $6.15 an hour on January 1, 2007.
  • Ohio: Supporters of a higher minimum wage are well on track to qualify their ballot initiative increasing the minimum wage to $6.85. Ohioans for a Fair Minimum Wage is organizing supporters.
  • Pennsylvania: Governor Ed Rendell signed a measure to increase Pennsylvania's minimum to $7.15 an hour for all employers by mid-2008.
  • Rhode Island: Governor Donald Carcieri allowed a minimum wage increase to take law without his signature. The measure increases the minimum to $7.40 an hour by 2007.
  • Tennessee: The state house approved legislation to create a minimum wage of $6.15 an hour, but the legislation was killed in the senate.
  • West Virginia: Governor Joe Manchin signed a minimum wage hike into law. The measure raised the minimum to $7.25 per hour, but is not a universal minimum.

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