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Workers See Slow Gains for 2018


US workers continue to face uncertainty about health care and low $7.25 per hour federal minimum wage. However, 18 states gave minimum wage workers a raise for 2018 and several more have laws requiring sick leave and family leave.

At the start of 2018, minimum wage rates were increased by legislation or ballot initiative in Arizona ($10.50); California ($11); Colorado ($10.20); Hawaii, Rhode Island ($10.10); Maine ($10); Michigan ($9.25); New York ($10.40), Vermont ($10.50), and Washington ($11.50). In Alaska ($9.84), Florida ($8,25), Minnesota (9.65/$7.87), Missouri ($7.85), Montana ($8.30/$4), New Jersey ($8.60), Ohio ($8.30/$7.25), and South Dakota ($8.85) rates increased automatically based on the cost of living. Also, workers in Seattle ($15.45), and New York City ($13/$12) will start 2018 with a minimum wage increase. The cities of Portland, Oregon ($10.75), San Francisco, California ($15), and Washington, DC ($13.25) will see a raise July 1.

In 2018, larger businesses in New York City must pay $13 per hour, smaller businesses have to pay $12, and fast food workers will get $13.50. Minimum in other parts of the state are $11 (Westchester County) and $10.40. In New Jersey Governor Christie vetoed a $15 minimum wage bill passed by state legislature. Instead, minimum is going up 16 cents to $8.60. Several locations have legislation in effect that will gradually bring their minimum wage to $15 per hour: California (by 2022), Washington, DC (2020), and New York (2020+).

Laws requiring paid sick and family leave gained some ground. Connecticut (2011), California (2014), Massachusetts (2014), Oregon (2015), Arizona (2016), Vermont (2016), Washington (2018), and Rhode Island (effective 7/2018), plus Washington, DC have paid sick leave laws. Thirteen cities in New Jersey; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; Chicago, Illinois; New York City; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Montgomery County, Maryland; and the states of California (2004), Washington (2007), New Jersey (2009), Rhode Island (2014), New York (2018), and Washington, DC (effective 2020) have paid family leave laws.

Only three states—California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island—currently offer paid family and medical leave. In Maryland, Republican Governor Larry Hogan vetoed the paid sick leave bill passed by state legislature. Meanwhile, large companies are asking congressional Republicans to shield them from state and local leave laws.