Federal, State and County laws throughout the US have varying minimum wages and they are changing at a more frequent rate than ever. Some studies indicate an increase will stimulate local economies and put less stress on social services; and yet other groups predict an exodus of businesses from the highest wage areas. While we can’t make clear sense of the future impact, one thing is for certain, small employers are more susceptible to increased costs. So know the current minimum wage applicable to you and your business and plan for future changes.
Federal Minimum Wage: The Federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. The value of the minimum wage has fallen sharply over the past forty years. In 1968, for example, the federal minimum wage was $1.60 per hour, which translates to approximately $10.70 in 2013 dollars. To help lower income citizens, President Barack Obama is backing a proposal to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 over three years. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the increase could raise pay for up to 28 million workers.
State Minimum Wage: Thirteen states raised their minimum wage at the start of 2014. In California, highly publicized legislation supported a minimum wage to increase from $8 to $9 a hour on July 1st, 2014. But wait, that’s not all, the legislation went on to set another increase to raise the California minimum wage to $10 an hour on January 1st, 2016. And oh, there’s more…a groundswell of support originating in Silicon Valley is growing in favor of increasing minimum wage up to $12 an hour via a November 2014 state ballot initiative process.
County Minimum Wage: In San Francisco County, effective January 1st 2014, San Francisco minimum wage increased to $10.74 an hour – the highest in the country. However, even smaller regions are attempting to adjust pay upward; SeaTac, a small Washington town, which includes a large international airport, voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour – legal battles are still in play.
Risk of Increased Penalties for Wage Violations: Employers should be aware of the increased penalties for minimum wage violations; In California, AB 442 requires employer-violators pay civil penalties and restitution of wages to the employee, AND now, liquidated damages equal to the amounts improperly withheld.
So stay tuned, remain compliant and plan ahead. It’s all about change. (pun intended)
For obtaining required posters or information, go to:
- California Minimum Wage Poster: http://www.dir.ca.gov/iwc/MW-2014.pdf
- Minimum Wages per States: http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/america.htm