What’s the Minimum Wage in Each State?
Federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour. Find out it your state pays more.
You've no doubt heard the term minimum wage plenty of times, especially if you've worked a common entry-level job like cashier at a retail store or a line cook at a fast food establishment.
But what you earn in one location can differ from what you'd earn in another location—sometimes by a lot. That's because the federal minimum wage in each state differs, so it's not always easy to know what you should get paid—and you always need to know what you should be getting paid.
What is minimum wage?
Minimum wage is the lowest amount of compensation (read: money) that an employer can legally pay you to work for them. Currently, under the FLSA, employers are required to pay $7.25 an hour by federal law, which comes out to about $15,080 a year for full-time workers.
The fact is, an employer can't just decide to pay you whatever they feel like, nor can they pay you one wage one day and another wage another day. There's a minimum wage law—a provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)—that guarantees that you earn a certain amount of money for your work. However, there are a handful of exemptions for both employers and employees.
Who is exempt from the FLSA?
Some employees are exempt from minimum wage provisions. These exempt workers are paid annual salaries, not hourly wages, and are ineligible for overtime pay. (There are other circumstances under which a worker can be exempt. For more information, check with the Department of Labor.)
On the flip-side, covered nonexempt employees—such as construction workers, contractors and freelancers, maintenance workers, retail sales associates, and servers—are paid by the hour, can collect overtime, and must be paid minimum wage.
How often does the federal minimum wage increase?
There are no automatic increases to minimum wage. In order for minimum wage to be raised, Congress needs to pass a bill that the President must then sign into law.
This may come as a shock, but the federal minimum wage hasn't been raised since 2009, when it went from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour. Congress had approved of the increase in 2007, but it took until 2009 to go into effect. Prior to 2007, the minimum wage was $5.15 for 10 years.
If $7.25 an hour sounds underpaid to you, you're not alone. According to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of Americans are in favor of raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. However, most Americans are covered by higher minimums (typically adjusted for inflation) set by state laws.
State minimum wage vs federal minimum wage
Although the federal minimum wage law says that employers must pay their workers at least $7.25 an hour, states are free to set their own minimum wage—and the majority of states have. The good news is that workers are entitled to the larger dollar amount. Meaning, employers are required to pay their employees whichever wage is higher, state or federal. That leads us to the logical next question:
Which states pay more than minimum wage?
Overall, 29 states and Washington D.C. pay more than the federal minimum wage. In addition, 45 localities have adopted minimum wages above the state minimum wage. In 2021, 24 states will see increases to minimum wages.
Minimum wage in each state
The below list was pulled from the Economic Policy Institute's Minimum Wage Tracker, and we will update it regularly. As of January 7, 2021, here's the minimum wage in each state.
Florida: $8.56 (Note: Federal minimum wage in Florida will increase to $15 on September 30, 2021, thanks to Amendment 2 voted on and approved in 2020.)
New Hampshire: $7.25
New Jersey: $12
New Mexico: $10.50
New York: $12.50
North Carolina: $7.25
North Dakota: $7.25
Rhode Island: $11.50
*South Carolina: $7.25
South Dakota: $9.45
West Virginia: $8.75
Washington DC: $15
*No minimum wage is set, therefore the federal minimum wage applies.
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