Minimum Wage in 2015: Are You Entitled to a Raise?

For gavel over money istockemployees in many states, ringing in the New Year also meant seeing an increase to their paychecks. The following 21 states – and the District of Columbia – will see an increase in minimum wage in 2015: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. While the majority of these minimum wage bumps took effect on January 1, a handful of states have their increases scheduled for later in the year.

With the changes to minimum wage in 2015, 26 states will have minimum wages that are higher than the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25 an hour). Massachusetts and Rhode Island both saw a full dollar increase to their minimum wages, bringing the rates from $8 an hour to $9 an hour. But South Dakota saw the biggest jump of $1.25, increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour.

In general, employees are entitled to the highest of three minimum wages: federal, state, and city. Employees who live in certain, large cities will also reap the benefits of higher local minimum wages in 2015. For example, Oakland’s minimum wage will increase to $12.25 on March 2, 2015, San Francisco’s minimum wage will increase to $12.25 on May 1, 2015, and Chicago’s minimum wage will increase to $10 on July 1, 2015.

As the cost of living increases in many parts of the country, this is welcome news to employees who are struggling just to make it by.  And, employees can look forward to more good news in the next few years. Several states, and some cities, have additional minimum wage increases scheduled for 2016, 2017, and 2018.

To check your state’s minimum wage, select it from the list at Nolo’s Your Right to Minimum Wage page.