New year brings minimum wage hikes for Americans in 14 states

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As the United States marks more than six years without an increase in the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, 14 states and several cities are moving forward with their own increases, with most set to start taking effect on Friday.

California and Massachusetts are highest among the states, both increasing from $9 to $10 an hour, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures. At the low end is Arkansas, where the minimum wage is increasing from $7.50 to $8. The smallest increase, a nickel, comes in South Dakota, where the hourly minimum is now $8.55.

The increases come in the wake of a series of "living wage" protests across the country, including a November campaign in which thousands of protesters in 270 cities marched in support of a $15-an-hour minimum wage and union rights for fast food workers. Food service workers make up the largest group of minimum-wage earners, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For more on these protests, scroll through the gallery below:

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U.S. fast food worker protests for $15 minimum wage
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New year brings minimum wage hikes for Americans in 14 states
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Low wage workers and supporters protest for a $15 an hour minimum wage on November 10, 2015 in New York, United States. In what organizers are calling a National Day of Action for $15 and hour minimum wage, thousands of people took to the streets across the country to stage protests in front of businesses that are paying some of their workers the minimum wage. Home care workers, employees in retail and fast food restaurants say that the current minimum is not a living wage. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio makes an appearance in support of low wage workers, many in the fast-food industry, as they join with supporters to demand a minimum wage of $15 an hour on November 10, 2015 in New York, United States. In what organizers are calling a National Day of Action for $15 and hour minimum wage, thousands of people took to the streets across the country to stage protests in front of businesses that are paying some of their workers the minimum wage. Home care workers, employees in retail and fast food restaurants say that the current minimum is not a living wage. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Low wage workers and supporters protest for a $15 an hour minimum wage on November 10, 2015 in New York, United States. In what organizers are calling a National Day of Action for $15 and hour minimum wage, thousands of people took to the streets across the country to stage protests in front of businesses that are paying some of their workers the minimum wage. Home care workers, employees in retail and fast food restaurants say that the current minimum is not a living wage. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Low wage workers and supporters protest for a $15 an hour minimum wage on November 10, 2015 in New York, United States. In what organizers are calling a National Day of Action for $15 and hour minimum wage, thousands of people took to the streets across the country to stage protests in front of businesses that are paying some of their workers the minimum wage. Home care workers, employees in retail and fast food restaurants say that the current minimum is not a living wage. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Low wage workers and supporters protest for a $15 an hour minimum wage on November 10, 2015 in New York, United States. In what organizers are calling a National Day of Action for $15 and hour minimum wage, thousands of people took to the streets across the country to stage protests in front of businesses that are paying some of their workers the minimum wage. Home care workers, employees in retail and fast food restaurants say that the current minimum is not a living wage. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Low wage workers and supporters protest for a $15 an hour minimum wage on November 10, 2015 in New York, United States. In what organizers are calling a National Day of Action for $15 and hour minimum wage, thousands of people took to the streets across the country to stage protests in front of businesses that are paying some of their workers the minimum wage. Home care workers, employees in retail and fast food restaurants say that the current minimum is not a living wage. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Low wage workers and supporters protest for a $15 an hour minimum wage on November 10, 2015 in New York, United States. In what organizers are calling a National Day of Action for $15 and hour minimum wage, thousands of people took to the streets across the country to stage protests in front of businesses that are paying some of their workers the minimum wage. Home care workers, employees in retail and fast food restaurants say that the current minimum is not a living wage. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - SEPTEMBER 10: Laura Rollins joins with others to protest in front of a McDonald's restaurant in support of a $15 an hour minimum wage on September 10, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles are among cities that have adopted a $15 an hour minimum wages. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - SEPTEMBER 10: Laura Pierre joins with others to protest in support of a $15 an hour minimum wage on September 10, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles are among cities that have adopted a $15 an hour minimum wages. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 22: Marie Gasaway protests with fast food workers and community activists outside a McDonald's restaurant in the Loop on June 22, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The protestors were calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $15-dollars-per-hour. The demonstration was staged to coincide with the 4th hearing of the Wage Board in New York City as it debates the $15-dollar-per-hour increase for its workers. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - SEPTEMBER 10: Protesters in support of a $15 an hour minimum wage march together on September 10, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles are among cities that have adopted a $15 an hour minimum wages. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 22: A woman begs for change as fast food workers and community activists protest outside a McDonald's restaurant in the Loop on June 22, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstrators were calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $15-dollars-per-hour. The demonstration was staged to coincide with the 4th hearing of the Wage Board in New York City as it debates the $15-dollar-per-hour increase for its workers. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 22: Juan Hernandez, 8, protests with his mother, who works for McDonald's, and other fast food workers and community activists outside a McDonald's restaurant in the Loop on June 22, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The protestors were calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $15-dollars-per-hour. The demonstration was staged to coincide with the 4th hearing of the Wage Board in New York City as it debates the $15-dollar-per-hour increase for its workers. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 22: Fast food workers and community activists protest outside a McDonald's restaurant in the Loop on June 22, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The protestors were calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $15-dollars-per-hour. The demonstration was staged to coincide with the 4th hearing of the Wage Board in New York City as it debates the $15-dollar-per-hour increase for its workers. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 22: Fast food workers and community activists protest outside a McDonald's restaurant in the Loop on June 22, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The protestors were calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $15-dollars-per-hour. The demonstration was staged to coincide with the 4th hearing of the Wage Board in New York City as it debates the $15-dollar-per-hour increase for its workers. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Demonstrators march past a McDonald's Corp. restaurant during a rally in Oak Brook, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Labor activists seeking $15-an-hour wages marched on McDonald's headquarters on Wednesday, marking the second straight year of protests ahead of the fast-food chain's annual meeting. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 22: Fast food workers and community activists protest outside a McDonald's restaurant in the Loop on June 22, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The protestors were calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $15-dollars-per-hour. The demonstration was staged to coincide with the 4th hearing of the Wage Board in New York City as it debates the $15-dollar-per-hour increase for its workers. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Demonstrators march during a rally near a McDonald's Corp. restaurant and the headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Labor activists seeking $15-an-hour wages marched on McDonald's headquarters on Wednesday, marking the second straight year of protests ahead of the fast-food chain's annual meeting. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A demonstrator holds a sign that reads 'People and Planet over Profit' during a rally near a McDonald's Corp. restaurant and headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Labor activists seeking $15-an-hour wages marched on McDonald's headquarters on Wednesday, marking the second straight year of protests ahead of the fast-food chain's annual meeting. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Demonstrators march during a rally near McDonald's Corp. headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Labor activists seeking $15-an-hour wages marched on McDonald's headquarters on Wednesday, marking the second straight year of protests ahead of the fast-food chain's annual meeting. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Demonstrators march during a rally near McDonald's Corp. headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Labor activists seeking $15-an-hour wages marched on McDonald's headquarters on Wednesday, marking the second straight year of protests ahead of the fast-food chain's annual meeting. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Home health care workers and other protesters hold signs at a rally in support of minimum wage increase in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Fast-food workers held rallies in 236 U.S. cities Wednesday in their biggest protest yet for higher pay and union rights. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Home health care workers hold signs at a rally in support of minimum wage increase in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Fast-food workers held rallies in 236 U.S. cities Wednesday in their biggest protest yet for higher pay and union rights. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Protesters hold signs at a rally in support of minimum wage increase in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Fast-food workers held rallies in 236 U.S. cities Wednesday in their biggest protest yet for higher pay and union rights. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Protesters hold signs at a rally in support of minimum wage increase in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Fast-food workers held rallies in 236 U.S. cities Wednesday in their biggest protest yet for higher pay and union rights. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Protesters hold up a Ronald McDonald puppet at a rally in support of minimum wage increase in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Fast-food workers held rallies in 236 U.S. cities Wednesday in their biggest protest yet for higher pay and union rights. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Signs lay in the street before the start of a rally in support of minimum wage increase in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Fast-food workers held rallies in 236 U.S. cities Wednesday in their biggest protest yet for higher pay and union rights. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Protesters hold signs at a rally in support of minimum wage increase in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Fast-food workers held rallies in 236 U.S. cities Wednesday in their biggest protest yet for higher pay and union rights. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 15: Demonstrators gather in front of a McDonald's restaurant to call for an increase in minimum wage on April 15, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstration was one of many held nationwide to draw attention to the cause. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 15: Demonstrators gather in front of a McDonald's restaurant to call for an increase in minimum wage on April 15, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstration was one of many held nationwide to draw attention to the cause. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 15: Demonstrators gather in front of a McDonald's restaurant to call for an increase in minimum wage on April 15, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstration was one of many held nationwide to draw attention to the cause. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Fast food workers, healthcare workers and their supporters shout slogans at a rally and march to demand an increase of the minimum wage to 15USD per hour, in Los Angeles on December 4, 2014. The nationwide protest is expected to reach 190 US cities. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Fast food workers, healthcare workers and their supporters shout slogans at a rally and march to demand an increase of the minimum wage to 15USD per hour, in Los Angeles on December 4, 2014. The nationwide protest is expected to reach 190 US cities. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Two women order food as striking fast food workers, home healthcare workers and their supporter shout slogans inside a MCDonalds during a rally and march to demand an increase of the minimum wage to 15USD per hour, in Los Angeles on December 4, 2014. The nationwide protest is expected to reach 190 US cities. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 04: Protesters march through the streets demanding a raise on the minimum wage to $15 per hour on December 4, 2014 in New York, United States. The movement, driven largely by fast food workers, has risen in prominence in the past year; today's protests were also joined by demonstrators angry at the Grand jury verdict to not indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner in July, 2014. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 04: Protesters march through a McDonalds demanding a raise on the minimum wage to $15 per hour on December 4, 2014 in New York, United States. The movement, driven largely by fast food workers, has risen in prominence in the past year; today's protests were also joined by demonstrators angry at the Grand jury verdict to not indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner in July, 2014. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 04: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to low-wage federal contract workers during a protest where the workers demanded presidential action to win an increase to $15 an hour wage December 4, 2014 in Washington, DC. A number of workers were expected to walk off their jobs later in the day as part of the protest. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 04: Low-wage federal contract workers block rush hour traffic on Independence Avenue while demanding presidential action to win an increase to $15 an hour wage December 4, 2014 in Washington, DC. A number of workers were expected to walk off their jobs later in the day as part of the protest. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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With Friday's increases, the new average minimum wage across the 14 affected states rises from $8.50 an hour to just over $9.

Several cities are going even higher. Seattle is setting a sliding hourly minimum between $10.50 and $13 on Jan. 1, and Los Angeles and San Francisco are enacting similar increases in July, en route to $15 an hour phased in over six years.

Backers say a higher minimum wage helps combat poverty, but opponents worry about the potential impact on employment and company profits.

In 2014, a Democratic-backed congressional proposal to increase the federal minimum wage for the first time since 2009 to $10.10 stalled, as have subsequent efforts by President Barack Obama. More recent proposals by some lawmakers call for a federal minimum wage of up to $15 an hour.

Alan Krueger, an economics professor at Princeton University and former chairman of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, said a federal minimum wage of up to $12 an hour, phased in over five years or so, "would not have a noticeable effect on employment."

Some employers may cut jobs in response to a minimum-wage increase, Krueger said, while others may find hikes allow them to fill job vacancies and reduce turnover, lifting employment but lowering profits.

In recent years, an increasing number of states and municipalities have enacted their own wage floor policies. Currently, 29 states plus the District of Columbia and about two dozen cities and counties have their minimum wage at levels higher than the federal minimum.

Many are now in the midst of multi-year phase-in plans that will ultimately take them to between $10 and $15 an hour.

The 14 states where increases take effect on Friday are: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated 2014 federal proposal would have raised the wages of 16.5 million Americans and lifted 900,000 of them out of poverty but would have cost as many as 1 million jobs.

For more on this story, scroll through the gallery below:

9 PHOTOS
Minimum wage
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New year brings minimum wage hikes for Americans in 14 states
Map shows states with minimum wages compared to federal minimum wage; 2c x 4 inches; 96.3 mm x 101 mm;
In this June 2, 2014 photo, Wendy Harrison, a waitress at the icon Grill in Seattle, carries food to a table as she works during lunchtime. An Associated Press comparison of the cost of living at several other major U.S. cities found that a $15 minimum wage, like Seattle adopted this week, will make a difference, but won’t buy a lavish lifestyle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
In this June 2, 2014 photo, Wendy Harrison, a waitress at the icon Grill in Seattle, picks up a food order from the kitchen as she works during lunchtime. An Associated Press comparison of the cost of living at several other major U.S. cities found that a $15 minimum wage, like Seattle adopted this week, will make a difference, but won’t buy a lavish lifestyle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
In this June 2, 2014 photo, Gradie Wallen a bartender at the icon Grill in Seattle, mixes a drink as he works during lunchtime. An Associated Press comparison of the cost of living at several other major U.S. cities found that a $15 minimum wage, like Seattle adopted this week, will make a difference, but won’t buy a lavish lifestyle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, center speaks Monday, June 2, 2014, at a rally outside Seattle City Hall after the Seattle City Council passed a $15 minimum wage measure in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Nick Musser, general manager and executive chef of the icon Grill in Seattle, poses for a photo, Monday, June 2, 2014, in the kitchen of his restaurant. Musser is worried that aspects of the $15 minimum wage passed Monday by the Seattle City Council will make it difficult for his independent restaurant to compete with larger companies that also operate restaurants. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Carlos Hernandez-Sosa, center left, holds a sign in support of Seattle's $15 minimum wage measure, Monday, June 2, 2014, during a meeting of the Seattle City Council, which eventually passed the $15 minimum wage measure later in the meeting. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A group rallies outside a McDonald's restaurant at the Empire State Plaza concourse on Tuesday, May 20, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. Fast food workers from around New York state are urging lawmakers to let cities and towns set their own minimum wages. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
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