While 18 states raised their minimum wages at the start of 2018, 18 additional states and localities are set to do so on Sunday.
Two states – Maryland and Oregon – will raise base pay for employees on the first of the month. In Maryland, minimum wage will rise to $10.10 per hour, from $9.25, while in Oregon it will increase by 50 cents to $10.75.
The District of Columbia will also raise its minimum wage to $13.25 from the current rate of $12.50.
In addition, 15 other towns, counties and cities will raise their wages, including 10 California localities. In Emeryville, California, the minimum wage will climb to $15.69. In San Francisco, it is set to reach $15 per hour.
Other areas that will experience increases include Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, Minneapolis and Portland, Maine.
In January, 18 states and 20 cities raised their minimum wage, including California, New Jersey, Vermont and New York City.
The campaign for a $15 minimum wage, and rising wages overall, has been divisive. Last year, a study conducted by the Employment Policies Institute (EPI), which analyzed employment trends from 1990 through 2017, found that each 10% increase in the minimum wage in California has resulted in a corresponding 2% decline in employment for affected employees. The impact was larger, 5%, for lower-paid workers. By those estimates, the EPI projects that the pending $15 minimum wage hike would cost California 400,000 private sector jobs, with heavy losses in both the foodservice and retail sectors.
On the flip side, the Institute for Research on Labor & Employment (IRLE) at U.C. Berkeley, found that a higher minimum wage would actually add a small amount of jobs to the state economy by 2023. Without the increase, IRLE forecasts employment would grow 1.4% annually. The minimum wage increase would raise employment by 0.1%, equal to about 13,000 jobs, by 2023, according to the group’s study.
Wage growth has been sluggish throughout recent years, despite a strengthening economy and tightening labor market. During a press conference in June, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell called the lack of wage growth “a bit of a puzzle,” adding that he would have expected wages to react “more significantly” to the reduction in the unemployment rate.
Real average hourly earnings for all employees rose just 0.1%, to $10.75, between April and May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Year-over-year, average hourly earnings were flat.