1. What is the federal minimum wage?
Minimum wage means the lowest hourly pay that workers can receive. The federal minimum wage
for covered, nonexempt employees is $7.25
an hour, effective July 24, 2009. In 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported
that 1.6 million workers (1.9 percent of all hourly paid workers in the U.S.) earned wages equal to or less than the federal minimum wage. Of these 1.6 million workers, 392,000 workers earned exactly the federal minimum wage and 1.2 million workers earned less than the federal minimum wage.
Many states, and some cities, also have minimum wage laws. If state, city, and federal minimum wage laws apply, then the employee is entitled to whichever minimum wage is higher. In 2021, 20 U.S. states will have a minimum wage either equal to or below the federal minimum wage rate. Effective January 1, 2021, over 20 states will increase their minimum wage rates. These states include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington. Five additional states will raise their minimum wage in 2021. However, they will not go into effect until after January 1, 2021. These states include Connecticut, Florida, Nevada, Oregon, and Virginia.