A widely cited piece by the Chicago Federal Reserve in Feb. 2011 found that minimum wage increases not only lead to a boost in household income and spending, but also to a boost in household debt. A $1 wage increase boosted spending by $700 per quarter, more than the $250 the household gained in extra income during the period, according to the Chicago Fed.
There are no shortage of naysayers. Minimum wage increases could potentially have harmful impacts on business and the economy as well, including raising costs for small businesses already struggling with new policies on health care and taxes, and ultimately hurting job-seekers and the labor market.
Fast food chains like McDonald's that pay workers minimum wage would be hit with higher labor costs.
(Read more: Debating the effects of a $15 fast food wage)
Morgan Stanley analysts point to BJ's Restaurants and Cheesecake Factory as potential losers from the policy because of their large sales exposure to California, which will see wages rise by $1 to $9 an hour.
Clearly, there are costs and benefits of higher minimum wages. Economists and politicians are split over the ultimate impact on the economy, and that's one reason there's been no progress or change in the federal minimum wage since 2009.
Martin Feldstein, a Harvard professor and former economist under President Ronald Reagan, is in the camp that says it would harm the dynamics of the labor market.
"When low-skill labor becomes more expensive, employers have a greater incentive to mechanize or outsource their work," he argued in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal last December.
Other economists counter, saying it will help spending and actually improve prospects for hiring, motivating people to go out and look for work.
(Read more: Jack Ablin: Why we should raise the minimum wage)
Recently, a group of economists on that side of the argument, including Nobel Laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Peter Diamond, signed a letter calling for the hourly minimum wage to reach $10.10 by 2016.
"A minimum wage increase could have a small stimulative effect on the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earning," they said.
Expect to hear a lot more about raising the federal minimum wage heading into this year's election season, with the issue of income inequality taking center stage. But now those states where wage increases were made will offer evidence of the true costs and benefits on the economy and business.
(Read more: Let the post-taper forex trading begin!)
—By CNBC's Sara Eisen; Follow her on Twitter