13 States And Many Cities Welcome Minimum Wage Increases On Jan. 1

Millions of workers will benefit.

After the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve, workers in 13 states will see an increase in the minimum wage for 2016. Several other cities will also have their own minimum wage increases that begin after midnight.

The 13 states with minimum wage increases on January 1 include Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia. Sixteen other states plus the District of Columbia already have minimum wages higher than the federal standard of $7.25 an hour.

New York's minimum wage will increase by 25 cents an hour, which could amount to an additional $500 a year for workers. Families in Alaska and Nebraska, where the minimum wage will increase by a dollar, could earn an additional $2,000 a year.

California and Massachusetts will both have the highest statewide minimum wage in the country on January 1, at $10 an hour.

"This increase in the minimum wage is California's second increase in 18 months. Those earning minimum wage will now have a bit more to take home every paycheck," said California Labor Commissioner Julie Su in a press release.

Several cities in California, including San Francisco, already have a minimum wage that is higher than the new state requirement.

Massachusetts' minimum wage increase could help 450,000 low-wage workers.

Several cities will also hike their minimum wages on January 1. Seattle's new minimum wage will be between $10.50 and $13.00 an hour, depending on the size of the company. Fast food workers in New York City will now earn $10.50.

"It's not a game-changer," economist Mark Zandi told the Boston Globe, but added that "the annual income of many of these workers is very, very low, so even a few hundred dollars is real money."

Critics of the minimum wage increase believe there are other ways to help working class families.

"Setting a higher minimum wage seems like a natural way to help lift families out of poverty. However, minimum wages target individual workers with low wages, rather than families with low incomes," economics professor David Neumark wrote, as per CNBC. "Other policies that directly address low family income, such as the earned income tax credit, are more effective at reducing poverty."

(H/T: Quartz)

Cover image via Shutterstock