Raising the Minimum Wage in 2012

January 23, 2012.  NELP’s work on the minimum wage issue has gotten off to a roaring start this year.  Eight states and two cities rang in the New Year with modest minimum wage increases, as a result of laws that index the minimum wage to ensure that it keeps up with the cost of living each year.  

Approximately 1.4 million workers stand to benefit from the state increases alone, boosting consumer spending and pumping $366 million in GDP into our economy, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute.

NELP spearheaded an effort to highlight these state increases as a key building block for a sustainable economic recovery, as part of our ongoing work to support efforts at the state and federal levels to restore the minimum wage to its historic value—including increasing the $2.13 base wage for tipped workers—and ensure that it adjusts automatically to keep pace with the rising cost of living.  

Minimum Wage in the News

Working directly with advocates in the states, NELP helped generated hundreds of press stories on the January 1st minimum wage increases, prompting several editorial boards, including the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, to applaud these increases.  We placed dozens of op-eds, including in states launching campaigns to raise and index their minimum wages, and in TV and radio interviews, stressed the importance of these cost-of-living increases for workers and our struggling economy.

Colorado resident Kelly Wiedemer is one of those workers who now relies on a low-wage job to make ends meet.  Kelly used to make $31 an hour as a financial analyst, but now earns minimum wage working retail.  As she told the Christian Science Monitor, Colorado’s 28-cent increase to $7.64 “is a step in the right direction, but it is not a living wage by any means.  It helps low-wage workers from falling further behind.”  

Campaigns on the Move

Momentum is building across the country to raise wages for America's lowest-paid workers.  New grassroots campaigns in New York and Connecticut are set to join efforts already underway in Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, California, and Massachusetts.  Over the last two weeks, leaders from across the political spectrum have endorsed raising and/or indexing minimum wage rates, including New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who called for raising the state's minimum wage, and current presidential contender Mitt Romney, who recently stated his support for pegging the minimum wage to inflation.  Similar calls followed from lawmakers in Delaware and New Jersey, suggesting that 2012 might be a banner year for the issue.  

Stay tuned for more information on these campaigns!


For more information about NELP's work on the minimum wage, please visit


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