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The state of the minimum wage

Comparing U.S. state minimum wages in 2010 and 2021

The federal minimum wage has remained constant at $7.25 per hour since July 2009. The real value of this wage has declined over the past decade, and many people discuss if, when, and how this federal minimum should increase.

Not all U.S. workers earning minimum wage, however, have had a stagnant pay rate since 2009. Many U.S. states have increased their minimum wage rates to account for inflation and other changes in cost of living.

These GeoFRED maps display state minimum wage rates in 2010 and 2021. In 2010, 15 states (including Washington, D.C.) had minimum wage rates that exceeded the federal minimum. In 2021, 30 states do.

The 2010 map shows that a few states (AR, CO, GA, MN, WY) had minimum wage rates below the federal level. The 2021 map shows that all states now have minimum wage rates at or above the federal level. Technically, GA and WY still have state minimums of $5.15. But these sub-federal minimum wage rates apply only in select circumstances; in most cases, the higher federal minimum wage supersedes these state minimums. States shaded gray and labeled “No Data Available” don’t have their own state minimum wage laws and thus adhere to the federal minimum wage.

From 2010 to 2021, 32 states increased their minimum wages by varying degrees, with an average of +$3.42. Washington, D.C., increased its wage by the greatest amount (from $8.25 to $15.00, up $6.75), and Florida increased its wage by the lowest amount (from $7.25 to $8.65, up $1.40).

In 2010, Washington state had the highest minimum wage at $8.55; in 2021, Washington, D.C., with its $15 minimum wage, now tops the list. A few states, such as OR and CT, are slated to implement wage increases later in 2021.

How these maps were created: From GeoFRED, click the green “Build new map” button in the top right corner. From there, click the orange “Tools” button in the top left corner. Under the “Choose Data” menu, set “Region Type” as “State.” Click the dropdown arrow in the “Data” field and type into the search bar “State Minimum Wage Rate” and select the data series. Set the “Date” to the desired year. To make legend values comparable across years, click the “Edit Legend” tab and input desired legend values.

Suggested by YiLi Chien and Julie Bennett.



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