That’s how many states will increase their minimum wage at the start of 2022, although some analysts say the raises won’t be enough to keep up with soaring costs.
Thirty states already offer a minimum wage above the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour—it hasn’t changed since 2009—but 21 of them plan to boost their wages further on or around Jan. 1. Four other states expect to raise their minimum wages later in the year. Hourly increases range from $0.22 in Michigan, where the new minimum will be $9.87, to $1.50 in Virginia, bringing the minimum wage to $11.
The increases in the state minimum wages will help many more workers get closer to the $15 hourly wage President Joe Biden mandated for federal contractors in April, and comes as consumers are seeing prices rise at the fastest rate since 1982. Many employers, faced with labor shortages, have already been increasing wages to attract and keep workers.
“These minimum wage increases indicate moves toward ensuring a living wage for people across the country,” said Deirdre Kennedy, senior payroll analyst at Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S., in a statement.
The new year’s raises will fall short of that goal, however. An analysis by the Brookings Institution think tank showed that, as of October, the inflation-adjusted “living wage” that allows a full-time worker in a household with two working adults and two children to afford just the basic necessities, with nothing left over for saving, was $17.70 per hour nationally.
“In today’s inflationary environment, even as wages rise, so does the minimal threshold for an acceptable wage level,” the Brookings analysis noted. “Inflation has increased the cost of day-to-day needs like food, rent, gas, and utilities.”
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