Some 647,000 minimum wage earners in seven states will get a raise next year, according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), an employment advocacy group .

Those states are Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Granted, the increases aren't going to be much: they range between nine and 12 cents an hour. But in these times, every penny counts.

The state of Washington will raise minimum wages the most -- by 12 cents -- bringing the hourly rate to $8.67 and adding an extra $20 a month to paychecks. Colorado will hike its minimum wage by 11 cents, while Arizona, Montana, Ohio and Oregon will raise it by 10 cents and Vermont will boost its minimum wage by nine cents.

Left out?

But what about the other 43 states?  

It seems only 10 states automatically adjust their minimum wage levels each year for inflation. Florida, Missouri and Nevada which also require annual cost-of-living adjustments are leaving the state minimum wage rates unchanged at $7.25 per hour.

And the remaining 40 states and the District of Columbia that have no automatic adjustment must pass legislation to increase the minimum wage. According to NELP, none of those states have plans for increases at this time.

The advocacy group is trying to get more states to implement the automatic adjustments, saying that even the smallest increases in pay help workers keep up with the cost of living and benefits state economies.  NELP points out that right now, one in seven people in the U.S. relies on food stamps.  The number could decrease significantly if more people were able to survive on their income.


Christine Owens, executive director of NELP, says the small increases mean hundreds of thousands of minimum wage earners such as health aides, child care workers, fast-food restaurant workers and retail clerks will be in better shape to put food on their tables, provide for their families and keep a roof over their heads.

Three-quarters of minimum wage earners are 20 years old or older and more than 60 percent are women.

She adds that in addition to helping working families, raising wages helps sustain consumer spending and that will help spur economic recovery.

Automatic increases

NELP says 17 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages above the federal level of $7.25 and points out that Congress has  increased the federal minimum wage just three times in the last 30 years.

But the group says, if automatic adjustments based on inflation had been made beginning in 1968, the federal minimum wage would currently be above $10.