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18 States To Boost Minimum Wage In January

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Eighteen states will increase their minimum wage rates on Jan. 1, benefiting more than 4.5 million workers.

An additional $5 billion will appear in workers' paychecks across the country as a result, according to figures compiled by the Economic Policy Institute.

In Maine, legislation will come into effect increasing the minimum wage by $1 to $10. It will impact around 59,000 workers.

In California, more than 2 million workers will see a $0.50 rise, bringing the minimum wage to $11.

Some states have laws on the books which call for the increase of the minimum wage to stay on pace with inflation, while others have passed legislation to increase pay rates.

At the federal level, the minimum wage has remained frozen since 2009 at $7.25.

The buying power of the minimum wage has declined over the past 50 years, CNBC notes. In 1968, the minimum wage was $2, which equates to $10.50 in 2017 dollars.

The EPI described the current minimum wage as "simply too low." It pointed out that if the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity increases since the 1960s, then it would be around $19 per hour in 2018.

In May, Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced legislation in the Senate to increase the federal minimum wage to $15. The plan called for the goal to be reached by 2024 and for subsequent increases to be tied to median wage growth. 

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"Just a few short years ago, we were told that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour was 'radical,'" Sanders stated on May 25, according to The Hill. "Our job in the wealthiest country in the history of the world is to make sure that every worker has at least a modest and decent standard of living."

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York and 28 other Democrats supported the proposal, compared with just five senators when Sanders first introduced a similar measure in 2015.

No Senate Republicans have backed such a minimum wage increase.

During a November 2015 Republican presidential candidate debate for the 2016 election, Donald Trump rejected the call for a $15 minimum wage when asked about it.

"I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is," he said, according to CNN Money. "People have to go out, they have to work really hard and they have to get up to that upper stratum. But we cannot do this if we are going to compete with the rest of the world."

Sources: Economic Policy Institute, CNBC, The Hill, CNN Money / Featured Image: Gage​ Skidmore/Flickr / Embedded Images: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr, Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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