With fewer than 24 hours to go until 2019, millions of minimum-wage workers across the US are preparing for sizable boosts in their compensation thanks to wage hikes in 20 states and 21 cities - increases that were largely inspired by the 'Fight for $15' movement launched back in 2012 by fast food and retail workers in NYC.
The wage hikes will impact some 17 million workers across the US over the course of 2019.
The federal minimum wage has been stalled at $7.25 since 2009. At least 13 counties and cities will implement the higher wage laws immediately starting on Jan. 1, reaching or exceeding $15 an hour. The rest will gradually phase in higher minimums of between $12 and $15 an hour, NBC News reported.
In addition, eight states - Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, and Washington state - are phasing in increases that will eventually put their minimum wages at $12 to $15 an hour, according to the National Employment Law Project.
According to a statement published last week, NELP Executive Director Christine Owens said the increases would be a boon for hardworking Americans who "have little to show for it," according to the Huffington Post.
"Working people are struggling to pay their bills, but they see that it’s the corporations and the wealthy CEOs who are getting the tax breaks," Owens said. "It's just not right. The American people believe in the value of work - and that workers deserve to be valued."
One NELP policy director said that while these increases are tremendous victories for the workers, in high cost states like California, more wage hikes may be needed, while workers in low cost-of-living states will see an outsize benefit.
The complete list of states raising the minimum wage this year includes: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington and Vermont.
While economic equality sounds like laudable goal on the surface, it ignores the fact that by raising costs, employers will be incentivized to hasten their adoption of automation. As McKinsey warned in a study published one year ago, automation will kill 800 million jobs by 2030.