Visualizing Minimum Wage in the United States
One of the most hotly contested political debates in the United States is the minimum wage. Pro-business advocates say a high minimum wage hurts business, while pro-labor advocates say the minimum wage should be raised to help the working poor. Have a look at our chart below to see your state’s minimum wage.
In the chart above, states are colored based on the value of their minimum wage. The lowest minimum wage states are colored peach, with other states becoming a darker shade of green as the minimum wage increases. The wage laws don’t apply to certain positions, such as wages for tipped workers. The data were collected from the US Department of Labor.
Top 5 States with Highest Minimum Wage
District of Columbia: $12.50 per hour
Washington: $11.50 per hour
California: $11.00 per hour
Massachusetts: $11.00 per hour
Oregon: $10.75 per hour
States with Lowest Minimum Wage
Georgia: $5.15* per hour
Wyoming: $5.15* per hour
20 other states tie at the Federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour
*Federal minimum wage overrules these wages
The first thing to note is the minimum wages in Georgia and Wyoming. Although both of these states have laws putting the state minimum wage at $5.15, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 overrules the state laws. There are five states – Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee – that have no state minimum wage laws and therefore the federal minimum wage is the default. The bulk of the lowest minimum wages are located in the Midwest and the South.
The higher minimum wages are located in the West and the Northeast. It would appear to be the case that politics affects minimum wage laws, as the minimum wage is significantly higher in blue states than in red states. Washington DC, which technically isn’t a state, has the highest minimum wage at $12.50 per hour. That’s followed closely by Washington’s minimum wage of $11.50. But it’s worth pointing out that Seattle, Washington’s largest city and half of the state’s population, has a local minimum wage of $15 per hour.
It’s also worth pointing out that in 2018, a total of 18 states changed their minimum wage laws. Another interesting note is that Amazon, one of the largest employers in the US, raised its own internal minimum wage to $15 the same year. The federal minimum wage has not been changed since 2009, but there are outside pressures pushing minimum wages up, despite a lack of action on the part of federal policymakers.
What your minimum wage is will depend on your state. Minimum wages vary across the United States, but there is a clear correlation between the dominant political party in a given state and that state’s minimum wage. Additionally, your state’s minimum wage might be offset by the city you’re in or the company you work for!
Data: Table 1.1