Washington minimum wage rises to $9.19 an hour

Washington state’s minimum wage rose by 15 cents on Tuesday to $9.19 an hour, once again elevating the highest state baseline in the country.

Automatic increases designed to compensate for inflation have steadily pushed up wages in some states, even through the recession, expanding the pay gap between areas that make annual adjustments and those that don’t.  Of the 10 states that increased the minimum wage on New Year’s Day, nine did so automatically to adjust for inflation. Rhode Island lawmakers approved that state’s wage increase in the past year.

The automatic adjustments aren’t much. Washington’s bump will mean those who work 40-hour weeks will earn an extra $6 a week, or about $300 a year.

Hundreds of thousands of workers are expected to get a pay increase with the wage adjustments that began Tuesday. Along with Washington and Rhode Island, the changes occurred in Montana, Oregon, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Ohio, and Vermont.

Minimum-wage workers in Idaho will make nearly $2 an hour less in 2013 than their westerly neighbors.

Many states, including Idaho, follow the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, either because they’ve tied their minimum wage to that threshold or because the state-enacted minimum is lower than that.

San Francisco has set the highest local minimum wage and will have workers paid at least $10.55 an hour in 2013.  (AP)

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