Record Number of Cities, States will Increase Minimum Wages in 2023

After 10th anniversary of Fight for $15, raises signal that worker organizing has been effective amid pandemic recovery, record inflation

Washington, D.C.—Workers’ wages will increase in 41 cities and counties and 23 states on January 1, 2023, according to the latest report out today from the National Employment Law Project (NELP). In 40 of these jurisdictions, the minimum wage floor will reach or exceed $15 an hour for some or all employers. These record increases arrive shortly after the 10-year anniversary of the first fast-food workers’ strike to demand $15 and a union. While the federal wage floor has remained stagnant at $7.25/hour since 2009, underpaid workers have organized to demand and win higher wages—including during record cost of living increases over the past months.

The New Year’s increases will be followed by another round of increases later in 2023, when 5 states and 22 cities and counties will raise their rates—21 of them to $15 or more for some or all employers. In total, 86 states and municipalities will raise their minimum wage over the course of 2023.

“The monumental impact of the Fight for $15 is clearly visible in this year’s record wage increases as well as those in years past,” said Rebecca Dixon, executive director of NELP. “But in those same 10 years, Congressional action to expand worker rights has been limited. While it is encouraging to see boosts to the minimum wage in cities and states across the country, we need federal policy to address the mounting crises brought about by record increases in the cost of living and pandemic recovery. We must pass a higher federal minimum wage—at least $15 an hour—that accounts for rising costs of living and ensures that workers have the ability to support themselves and their families.”

November 2022 marked the 10-year anniversary of the Fight for $15 and a Union movement. This movement, led by fast-food workers of color, has had a far-reaching impact on wages and informed policy debates on fair pay and workplace rights. In the decade since fast-food workers first walked off the job in New York City to demand living wages, the Fight for $15 has led to $150 billion in higher pay for more than 26 million workers. It has also helped to reduce the racial wage gap nationwide and injected billions in economic activity annually since 2012.

Workers’ demand for at least $15 per hour and a union became even more urgent and widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced a reckoning in low-wage industries and throughout the economy. Workers, fed up with low pay, a lack of job security, and poor working conditions endemic to service and other frontline jobs, are demanding change.

“The raises we are seeing are a true testament to the power of organizing,” said Yannet Lathrop, senior researcher and policy analyst at NELP. “These raises were achieved in a variety of ways, from ballot initiatives to statehouses to workers making their demands to employers directly. As these wins continue and we see the real-world impact of higher pay—from growing unionization to narrowing racial wealth gaps—we encourage lawmakers to go further and raise pay broadly across our economy.

Although these city and state wage increases signal a step in the right direction, NELP, which tracks and advocates for minimum wage increases around the country, notes that there is still much to be done. Twenty states have refused to raise their wage floors above the federal rate. Roughly half of those states are located in the U.S. South, where a majority of Black workers live and experience higher levels of poverty and downward economic mobility. As the federal wage floor has been stuck at $7.25 per hour since 2009 and the federal tipped wage has been frozen at $2.13 for more than three decades, without state action, underpaid workers will have to continue to depend on Congress to see a raise in minimum hourly wages.

READ THE REPORT: Raises from Coast to Coast in 2023


The National Employment Law Project is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts research and advocates on issues affecting underpaid and unemployed workers. For more about NELP, visit Follow NELP on Twitter at @NelpNews.

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