Raises from Coast to Coast in 2019

Minimum wage will increase in 19 states and 21 cities and counties on January 1, with many reaching $15 an hour. Twenty-one additional jurisdictions will raise pay later in the year.

Since fast-food workers in New York City walked off the job in 2012, launching the Fight for $15 and a union, the worker-led movement has sparked a wave of action to raise pay for low-wage workers. With action on the state and local levels in a range of jurisdictions across the country, 22 million low-wage workers have won a staggering $68 billion in raises[i] to date—while bringing national attention to income inequality and stagnant wages and paving the way for a range of progressive policies benefitting working people.

The movement for living wages will put much-needed money in workers’ pockets yet again this winter, when workers in 40 jurisdictions across the country will see their minimum wage go up on December 31 or January 1, as states and cities from coast to coast implement minimum wage increases in the new year. Three states and 18 cities and counties will also increase their wage floors later in the year, and one additional state (Nevada) will determine by April 1, 2019 whether it will also raise its minimum wage. Below is a summary of what to expect in 2019:

  • Minimum wages will increase in 19 states and 21 cities on or around New Year’s Day, for a total of 40 jurisdictions (Table 1).
    • In 13 cities and counties, the minimum wage will reach or exceed $15 per hour.
    • In 8 states, the minimum wage will increase due to Consumer Price Index (CPI)-based cost-of-living adjustments.
    • In 8 municipalities, the wage floor will also be adjusted to account for inflation, while one additional city (Seattle) will see both scheduled minimum wage increases for small employers, and cost-of-living adjustments for large employers.
  • Later in 2019, 3 states and 18 cities and counties will follow with additional minimum wage increases, and 1 additional state (Nevada) will also consider whether to raise its minimum wage.
    • Among the 3 states raising their minimum wage later in 2019 is Delaware, which will raise its wage floor twice in 2019 (in January and October).
    • Pursuant to a formula in the Nevada state constitution, the Nevada Labor Commissioner will announce on or around April 1, 2019 whether the state minimum wage will increase on July 1, 2019.
    • In 4 cities, the minimum wage will reach or exceed $15 per hour.
    • In 6 municipalities, the minimum wage will increase due to cost-of-living adjustments. In addition, one state (Nevada) will also consider increasing its minimum wage due to cost-of-living increases.
    • In 1 city (Santa Monica), the minimum wage will rise due to scheduled increases (all industries) and cost-of-living adjustments (hotel industry).
    • In 2 localities (Chicago and Cook County, IL), the wage floor will rise due to scheduled increases in the standard minimum wage and from cost-of-living adjustments for tipped workers.
  • In total, 21 states[1] and 39 cities and counties will raise their minimum wage on the last day of 2018 or sometime in 2019, and one additional state (Nevada) will also consider doing so.
  • By the time these multi-year minimum wage increases are fully phased in, 17 million workers will have received raises. This figure does not include workers whose earnings will increase from cost-of-living adjustments.

Campaigns for minimum wage increases are expected at the federal level, and in several more states and cities in 2019-2020.

Efforts to raise the minimum wage are underway at the federal level and in additional state and local jurisdictions. All are pushing for wage increases of at least $15 an hour. Below is a partial list of campaigns to expect in 2019:

  • Federal ($15 by 2024 and the elimination of the tipped and disability subminimum wages)[ii]
  • Connecticut ($15)[iii]
  • Hawaii ($17)[iv]
  • Illinois (($15)[v]
  • Maryland ($15)[vi]
  • Minnesota ($15)[vii]
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada ($14)
  • New Jersey ($15 by 2024-2029)[viii]
  • Vermont ($15)[ix]


[1] Delaware, which will raise its minimum wage twice in 2019, is counted only once in this total.

[i]. National Employment Law Project, Impact of the Fight for $15: $68 Billion in Raises, 22 Million Workers, November 2018.

[ii]. Office of Senator Bernie Sanders, Sanders to Re-Introduce $15 Minimum Wage Bill in First Week of New Congress [press release], November 9, 2018.

[iii]. Mark Pazniokas, “Minimum Wage, Family Leave Top Progressive Wish List,” The Connecticut Mirror, December 6, 2018.

[iv]. Sophie Cocke, “State Lawmakers Noncommittak on Raising Minimum Wage,” Star Advertiser, November 26, 2018.

[v] http://www.nprillinois.org/post/state-week-pritzker-transition-15-minimum-wage-illinois-bicentennial#stream/0

[vi]. Activists and advocates in the Maryland legislature are expected to push for a $15 minimum wage in the next legislative session. See Jews United for Justice, Jews United for Justice, JUFJ 2019 Maryland Agenda, retrieved December 7, 2018.

[vii]. Emma Nelson, “$15 Minimum Wage Fight Moves to Minnesota State Capitol,” Star Tribune, November 17, 2018.

[viii]. Joseph De Avila, “New Jersey Assembly Speaker Pushes $15 Minimum Wage Bill,” The Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2018.

[ix]. Guy Page, “State Headliners: More Gun Control, $15 Minimum Wage,” The Sun Community News and Printing, December 6, 2018.

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