Minimum wage hike takes effect in cities and states across US

Minimum wage hike takes effect in cities and states across US
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The minimum wage rose Monday in New Jersey and Oregon, as well as a slew of cities around the country, as part of scheduled increases.

In New Jersey, the hourly wage rose to $10 from $8.85, and is on track to hit $15 by 2027. In Oregon, where the minimum is tiered, the wages in Portland rose 50 cents to $12.50; to $11 in rural areas; and to $11.25 in the rest of the state.

Twelve cities in California hiked their minimums, including San Francisco and Berkeley, where the wage increased by a standard cost of living amount beyond the $15-an-hour it hit last year.

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Other cities where the wage rose included Washington, D.C.; Chicago, Ill.; Portland, Maine; and Minneapolis, Minn. 

The increases come as Democrats prepare to bring a bill raising the federal minimum wage to the floor this month, a bill that has little prospect of passing in the GOP-controlled Senate. 

The federal minimum wage has been mired at $7.25 for a decade.

Proponents of raising the minimum wage say it helps push up income for the lowest earners and applies upward pressure on other incomes at the bottom of the income distribution.

But opponents say that higher minimum wages, particularly in areas that have lower costs of living and high levels of unemployment, lead to job losses.

“Employees and business owners will suffer yet again thanks to the consequences of higher wage mandates," said Samantha Summers, communications director for the Employment Policies Institute, which opposes minimum wage increases.

Minimum wage advocates say the data suggests few harmful consequences, especially when the wage increases gradually.

"The impact of a gradually phased-in $15 minimum wage would not only be positive for low-wage workers, but would also have a negligible impact on jobs and businesses," Laura Huizar, staff attorney for the National Employment Law Project, testified at a hearing on minimum wages last year.