Workers in four states win a raise


Workers in four states will be getting a raise over the next four years. Voters in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington State all passed ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage, as momentum continues to build steadily nationwide in favor of seemingly fairer salaries.

Citizens of Arizona, Colorado, and Maine will see pay hiked to $12 an hour over the next four years, while Washingtonians will see wages hit $13.50 by 2020.

The move has major implications for Main Street workers and business owners, as pay increases historically rank among the top concerns for America's smallest companies.

Workers are also customers, and increased pay means increased consumer buying power.
Holly Sklar
CEO of advocacy group Business for a Fair Minimum Wage

The federal minimum wage has remained stagnant at $7.25 an hour since 2009. Despite the inability to increase the federal minimum, the Obama Administration had taken steps to increase worker protections in recent years, including doubling the salary threshold for overtime eligibility earlier this year. On December 1, under new rules from the Department of Labor, four million salaried employees earning $47,476 annually will be eligible for pay increases.

The conservative lobbying group the National Federation of Independent Business expressed disappointment in the wage increases on Wednesday. Spokesman Jack Mozloom tellss CNBC via email, "The minimum wage increases were a blemish on what was otherwise a very good outcome for small businesses."

The group's President and CEO Juanita Duggan adds that the NFIB looks "forward to working with [Trump] on policies to strengthen small business," at a time when NFIB polling shows small businesses reporting levels of uncertainty not seen in 42 years.

But wage advocates are cheering the votes nationwide, which will likely pressure a Republican-led Congress to take action on the federal wage. President-elect Donald Trump has spoken in support of a $10 an hour federal minimum wage, although it is unclear whether the Republican will take greater action to increase salaries once in office.

"Four very different states passed ballot initiatives today to raise the minimum wage. That speaks volumes," Holly Sklar, CEO of advocacy group Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, said in a release. "Workers are also customers, and increased pay means increased consumer buying power, as well as lower employee turnover and improved productivity. The minimum wage wins today will increase the momentum to raise the minimum wage in more states and nationally."