Understanding Minimum Wage
Last updated December 7, 2023
When applying for or starting a new job, you will likely see lots of new terms and definitions associated with it. One of them will definitely be "minimum wage," especially if you're working a part-time or seasonal job. Here's what to know about minimum wage in your state!
What is Minimum Wage?
The U.S. minimum wage was created by the federal government to ensure workers’ rights to a livable earning. The first minimum wage was 25 cents per hour and didn’t actually cover all workers yet. Over time, the federal government (as well as state and local governments) have made changes to the minimum wage, raising it periodically and making it more inclusive of all workers.
State Minimum Wages vs. Federal Minimum Wage
As of 2021, 29 states in the U.S. have their own minimum wage laws. These laws allow them to make the minimum wage in their state lower, equal to, or higher than the federal minimum wage. If a state has no minimum wage law, the federal wage is what employees in that state will earn. If a state's law makes the minimum wage lower than the federal minimum wage, workers who come under the Fair Labor Standards Act will earn the federal minimum wage. If workers don't come under the FLSA, they can be paid less in their state.
Learning the Minimum Wage in Your State
Click on the map below to be taken to an interactive graphic of each state’s minimum wage and tipped minimum wage!
Minimum Wage for Employees Earning Tips
There is a separate minimum wage set by the federal government if tips make up a substantial portion of a worker's paycheck (for example, if they are wait staff at a restaurant). The current federal “tipped minimum wage” is $2.13 per hour, meaning no matter how many tips an employee makes in a shift, they must be paid at least $2.13 per hour by their employer. Similarly to the regular minimum wage, each state, in addition to cities and counties, can set their own minimum wage laws.
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