Ten states have announced that they will increase their minimum wage, including Colorado, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Florida, Missouri, Nevada and Vermont. These states have wage rates that are tied to inflation, so they must change annually based on the increase or decrease in the inflation rate. The changes in the rates are effective on January 1, 2012. According to the Seattle Times, Washington state currently has the highest state-mandated minimum wage at $8.67 per hour, a rate which will increase to $9.04 per hour once the rate change is enacted.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets federal guidelines for minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping requirements. Under the current legislation, the federal minimum wage is set at a minimum of $7.25 per hour for non-exempt employees. Exempt employees like tip-earners are paid a different minimum wage, which is usually above $4 per hour and is also set to rise in these states. Though the federal rate sets the country-wide minimum hourly wage, states may pass legislation to go above and beyond this benchmark. Currently, eighteen states and Washington, D.C. have minimum wages that are above the federal rate.
According to TIME, around 6 percent of hourly workers in the United States make just the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Though these states have taken the responsibility on themselves, there is argument over what the federal minimum rate should be. The National Employment Law Project (NELP) estimates that the federal minimum wage would have to jump to $10.39 per hour to keep up with inflation. Despite this, some states actually had rates that actually went down in the past year. This included Florida, which enacted a 6 cent increase on June 1 after a judge ruled that the state incorrectly reduced the minimum wage previously.
If you or a loved one believes that you are not being properly paid by your employer, it may be possible to receive compensation for your losses. If you are not receiving rightly deserved minimum wage, overtime, or other guarantees under the FLSA or state labor laws, you may be entitled to back pay for underpayment or unpaid overtime. Contact a knowledgeable minimum wage attorney to pursue legal recourse and ensure that your rights as a worker are protected.