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Millions of workers get pay boost as 22 states raise minimum wages

WASHINGTON — Starting this month, millions of workers will get a bump in their paychecks. That’s because more than 20 states are boosting minimum wages.

But critics say the increases could harm small businesses.

This all comes as the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour hasn’t increased since 2009. That’s why many states are taking action themselves.

Data from the Economic Policy Institute shows women make up nearly 60 percent of the workers who will get bigger paychecks this year.

“It’s going to be a big help, not just for me, but for every family out there that’s working fast food,” said Veronica Aguilar.

Aguilar works at Cinnabon. Starting April 1, she will make $20/hour as a fast food worker in California.

“$3 more that can help out with bills, utility bills, rent, mortgage, student loans,” she said.

This year, 22 states plus an additional three dozen cities and counties are increasing minimum wages.

While Aguilar said this is overdue, Brandon Arnold from the fiscally conversative, National Taxpayers Union, believes these increases may have consequences for both workers and customers.

“Some of her coworkers may be let go, the small business that the employees her, they may have to raise prices for consumers, they may have to let other people go,” said Arnold.

He argues small businesses are still recovering from pandemic closures and rising inflation.

“Now, many of them are dealing with crime where they have to hire private security personnel to keep their customers and employees safe,” said Arnold. “You’ve just had one cost after another heaped on top of small businesses and to boost their labor costs even more is going to be the death nail for a lot of small businesses.”

But some entrepreneurs believe higher pay is an investment.

“From my perspective, this is a cost that actually gets you something in terms of recruiting, in terms of retention, in terms of the quality of the work that you put out,” said Aaron Seyedian, owner of Well-Paid Maids.

On Capitol Hill, there have been talks to try to boost the federal minimum wage. One proposal would increase it to $17/hour by 2028.

Below are the 22 states that increased minimum wage starting January 1:

  • Alaska: $11.73
  • Arizona: $14.35
  • California: $16
  • Colorado: $14.42
  • Connecticut: $15.69
  • Delaware: $13.25
  • Hawaii: $14
  • Illinois: $14
  • Maine: $14.15
  • Maryland: $15
  • Michigan: $10.33
  • Minnesota: $10.85
  • Missouri: $12.30
  • Montana: $10.30
  • Nebraska: $12
  • New Jersey: $15.13
  • New York: $16
  • Ohio: $10.45
  • Rhode Island: $14
  • South Dakota: $11.20
  • Vermont: $13.67
  • Washington: $16.28

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