In his 2014 state of the union address, President Obama kicked off what could unofficially be dubbed the Year of the Minimum Wage. Just a year earlier, he had called for a $9 federal minimum, but there he was in early 2014, saying workers should earn at least $10.10 an hour. The shift shows how coordinated campaigns for higher wages, which started with fast-food workers and spread more broadly, raised expectations of what’s considered fair compensation.
Obama’s call to raise the federal minimum may have gone unanswered, but states and cities picked up the torch. In 2014, 13 states passed legislation or initiatives to raise the wage floor, not just in Democratic strongholds but in red states as well. Now the results of those campaigns are starting to come to fruition nationwide. About 3.6 million people will see their pay go up for the new year, according to an analysis of census data by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), which supports higher minimum pay.
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