State Minimum Wage Laws: Mid-Year Update

Early this year, we reported on recent state activity relating to the minimum wage. Since that time, there has been a flurry of developments: Oregon, New York, California, and the District of Columbia all raised their minimum wages substantially; Washington state certified a ballot measure that would raise the wage and mandate paid sick leave, and several localities, including Baltimore, Minneapolis, and Montgomery County, MD are considering a $15 per hour minimum wage.

Oregon was the first state to raise its wage this year when Governor Kate Brown (D) signed OR SB 1532 in March. This novel law established three different wages for the state based on location. In 2023, when all scheduled increases will be effective, the minimum wage will be $14.75 per hour in “urban growth boundaries,” $12.50 per hour in “nonurban counties,” and $13.50 per hour in other suburban jurisdictions.

In April, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) signed the state's budget that included a minimum wage increase - one of the Governor's priorities for 2016. The increase in New York, like in Oregon, varies by location. Under the new law, the minimum wage will increase to $15 per hour in New York City in 2018 and in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties in 2021. The minimum wage will increase to $12.50 per hour in the rest of the state by 2020.

California also enacted legislation to increase its minimum wage in April. However, unlike in Oregon and New York, the entire state is subject to the new minimum wage, which will increase by $1 every January until 2022, when it reaches $15 per hour. The increase was a compromise between the legislature, Governor Brown (D) and labor unions. The compromise materialized when labor union-backed ballot measure qualified for the ballot that would have raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour in 2020. The deal allows for a slower phase-in to attempt to minimize the effects to businesses. All three states increases will be tied to inflation after all of the scheduled increases have taken effect.

Minimum Wage Ballot Measures + New Laws 2016
So far, Maine and Washington state have certified ballot measures this year, giving voters the opportunity to weigh in on these increases in November. Colorado’s ballot measure, which would raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour in 2020, is almost certain to be certified as well. The popularity of this issue with voters almost guarantees that there will be other states raising the minimum wage this year.

Active Proposals


    • Would raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour in 2017 with incremental increases until it reached $12 per hour in 2020. It would also mandate that employers at large firms provide employees with 40 hours of paid sick leave and employers at small firms with 24 hours of paid sick leave per year.


    • Would raise wage from current level of $8.31 to $12.00 per hour in 2020.


    • Would raise wage from current level ($7.50) to $12.00 per hour in 2020.


    • Would raise wage from current level ($9.00 or $7.25, depending on business type) to $15.00 per hour.
    • Text of measure not available at this time, but see press coverage here.


    • Would raise wage from current level ($7.65) to $15.00 per hour in 2023.

South Carolina

    • Would create a state minimum wage (South Carolina currently does not have one) and set it at $1.00 higher than the federal wage level.


    • Would raise wage from current level ($9.47) to $13.50 per hour in 2020. Would also mandate that employers provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.

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