by Walter Hamilton
11:26 AM CST, February 13, 2013
President Obama’s call to raise the federal minimum wage highlights the vastly different rates already in place across the country, with 19 states having minimums that exceed the current U.S. level.
The president proposed Tuesday in his State of the Union speech to boost the federal level to $9 an hour from the current $7.25. The plan would hike the wage by 2015 as part of a broad plan to improve the fortunes of lower-paid workers.
As it has in the past, such a proposal is certain to stir strong opinions, with proponents arguing that it’s not only fair to workers but would be good for the economy by improving consumer spending power. Opponents believe it depresses hiring by making it more expensive for companies to take on new workers.
According to data compiled by the U.S. Labor Department, 19 states and the District of Columbia have pay-scale minimums that exceed the federal level, (Another 22 match the federal level).
The higher wage, whether it's the federal or the state level, always takes precedence.
Many states in the western portion of the country have rates topping the national mandate. California is one of them, with an $8 minimum wage.
The state of Washington, with a $9.19 rate, is the only state with a minimum wage that exceeds Obama's proposal. Oregon, at $8.95, is next. Georgia is the lowest at $5.15.
The minimum wage rates in 10 states, though not California, are pegged to the cost of living. Five states, clustered in the Southeast, have no minimum wage.
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