5 States Likely To Approve A Minimum Wage Increase In 2014

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As America kicks off an election year, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are already saying bread-and-butter economics issues will loom large in the national debate. And it's with good cause -- as AOL Jobs reported last year, there are 7.3 percent fewer mid-wage occupations (hourly wages from $21.14 to $54.55) than there were in 2001, and 8.7 percent more low-wage ones.

The federal minimum has been set at $7.25 since 2009. And as David Cooper, an economic analyst with the left-leaning Washington D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute, told AOL Jobs in an interview, "the minimum wage is so low it's not realistic for people to live on."

Indeed, as of Jan. 1, 21 states mandate a higher minimum wage than federal law dictates, as AOL Jobs has also reported. Last year saw five coastal states (California, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island) and Washington D..C., approve increases in their minimum wages. (The highest state minimum wage in the country is in Washington state, in which the figure now stands at $9.32 an hour.) But which are primed to approve a hike in 2014?

President Obama, for his part, has repeatedly expressed support for increasing the federal minimum wage to as much as $10.10 an hour. And activists are calling for a doubling of the minimum wage to $15 an hour. States governments are not waiting for Capitol Hill to act. In fact, the progressive National Employment Law Project (NELP) projects as many as 11 states could approve an increase this year. See below for five states that are in a strong position to do just that. (AOL Jobs put together the list with NELP, which is also partnering with local groups in the states to campaign for the increase.)

Hawaii

Current minimum wage: $7.25
Current tipped minimum wage: $7.00
Campaign proposal: Raise the minimum wage to $9.25 an hour; establish annual inflation indexing, by which the minimum wage increases each year the same percentage points that the state Consumer Price Index has increase.
Campaign: Both the state House and Senate have already approved an increase, though at different amounts. State governor Neil Abercrombie has spoken about the increase in strident terms. "If you take off the ideological blinders you'll see that raising the minimum wage is an advantageous step in increasing retail activity and pumping dollars back into the economy," he said in a news conference last year, as the Associated Press reported.

Find a job now in Hawaii.

Massachusetts

Current minimum wage: $8.00
Current tipped minimum wage: $2.63
Campaign proposal: Raise the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour through a ballot initiative or $11 through the state Senate; raise the tipped minimum wage to 60 percent of full minimum wage (or 70 percent under bill before state legislature; establish annual inflation indexing.
Campaign: The momentum to raise the minimum wage in the Bay State was put on display by the "large success to gain enough signatures to get the minimum wage on the ballot for 2014," as Jack Temple, a policy analyst for NELP, told AOL Jobs. Indeed, the number of signatures more than quadrupled the minimum 68,911 signatures required by the state, as Masslive.com reported.

Find a job now in Massachusetts.

Maryland

Current minimum wage: $7.25
Current tipped minimum wage: $3.63
Campaign proposal: Raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour through a ballot initiative or $11 through the state Senate; raise the tipped minimum wage to 70 percent of full minimum wage; establish annual inflation indexing.
Campaign: Maryland is currently being governed by one of the most high-profile progressive politicians in the nation, Gov. Martin O'Malley. And O'Malley has made the case for raising the minimum wage on the national affairs shows. During one recent appearance on CNN's "State of the Union," O'Malley announced he'll be "zeroing in" on the issue this year, as the Associated Press reported.

Find a job now in Maryland.

Minnesota

Current minimum wage: $7.25
Current tipped minimum wage: $7.25
Campaign proposal: Raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour; preserve the tipped minimum wage to 100 percent of full minimum wage; establish annual inflation indexing.
Campaign: Like in Hawaii, both houses of the state legislature approved increases last year. And as time ran out on reaching a shared agreement, "there was a widespread sense of failure" to get the job done, as Temple, of NELP, said.

Find a job now in Minnesota.

South Dakota

Current minimum wage: $7.25
Current tipped minimum wage: $2.13
Campaign proposal: Raise the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour; raise the tipped minimum wage to half the full minimum wage; establish annual inflation indexing.
Campaign: Residents of South Dakota will vote this year to increase the minimum wage through a state ballot initiative. All such votes across the country over the past 15 year have resulted in an increase in the state minimum wage. "Minimum wage increases tend to poll well in rural states, as low-wage jobs are often prevalent in such areas," as Temple told AOL Jobs.

Find a job now in South Dakota.

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