Tuesday's off-year general elections include races for governor, mayor and state legislatures. But two special ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage—part of a growing effort across the country to increase it—may be the most watched by businesses.
Voters in the small town of SeaTac, Wash., will decide if workers around the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport will have a minimum wage of $15 an hour. The state of Washington already has the highest minimum wage of any state at $9.19 per hour.
(Read more: Voters face wide range of ballot issues)
And voters in New Jersey will decide if their minimum wage should be $8.25 an hour, one dollar over the federal minimum wage. The measure would also include automatic annual adjustments for inflation, called "indexing."
States and cities cannot set a minimum wage lower than the federal standard—currently at $7.25 an hour— but they do have the power to raise it above the federal mark.
The $7.25 an hour wage translates into $15,080 for a full-time, year-round worker.
Some states—and the federal minimum wage law—allow employers to pay a lower minimum wage to workers who receive tips. That level is currently set at $2.13 an hour and has been there since 1991. Seasonal workers can also be paid below the federal or state minimum wage.
Five states—Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee— have no state minimum wage laws but are required to pay the federal minimum.