US Wage Laws

What you

need to know.

Federal, State, and Local Wage Laws in the United States

In the early 1900s, in the wake of the Industrial Revolution and the Great Depression, it was all too common for employers to expect their employees to work long hours for little pay. To address these oppressive working conditions, in 1938, the government passed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which, among other things, set a living wage for employees.

The first federal wage was $0.25 per hour. Today, nearly 30 amendments later, the rate is $7.25, set back in 2009. And states have gotten in on the action too, enacting their own minimum rates of pay.

Here’s what you need to know to ensure your company is in compliance with the latest wage laws.

 

Federal wage under FLSA

The FLSA requires employers to pay nonexempt (which generally means non-salaried employees) a wage of at least $7.25 per hour. The rule is slightly different for employees under 20 years old: for the first 90 days of their employment, they must be paid at least $4.25 an hour. The rule is also different for employees who receive tips: they are entitled to at least $2.13 per hour if they claim a tip credit. Some other employees can earn less than the statutory minimum wage: student learners; full-time students in retail or service establishments, agriculture, or institutions of higher education; and individuals whose earning or productive capacities are impaired by physical or mental disabilities, including those related to age or injury.

 

Additional state and local requirements

States and localities may also have adopted additional laws that regulate the wage for employees. In these states and cities, employers must follow the law with a higher standard. In other words, if state law requires a higher wage than the FLSA, then the employer must pay the higher wage.

Five states—Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee—don’t have their own minimum wage law. And only the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands has a lower minimum wage than the federal rate: $7.05. Of the rest, 29 states, plus Washington, D.C., Guam, and the Virgin Islands, have a higher wage than $7.25.

Minimum Wage by State, Federal, City or County

State City/County Minimum Wage
Alabama $7.25
Alaska $9.89 (effective 1/1/19)
Arizona $11.00 (1/1/19)
Flagstaff $12.00 (effective 1/1/19)
Arkansas $9.25 (effective 1/1/19)
California $12.00 (26 or more employees, effective 1/1/19)
$11.00 (25 or fewer employees)
Alameda $13.50 (effective 7/1/19)
Belmont $15.00 (effective 1/1/20)
Berkeley $15.59 (effective 7/1/19)
Cupertino $15.35 (effective 1/1/20)
Daly City $13.75 (effective 1/1/20)
El Cerrito El Cerrito $15.37 (effective 1/1/20)
Emeryville $16.30 (effective 7/1/19)
Fremont $13.50 (26 or more employees, effective 7/1/19)
$11.00 (25 or fewer employees)
Los Altos $15.40 (effective 1/1/20)
Los Angeles $14.25 (26 or more employees, effective 7/1/19)
$13.25 (25 or fewer employees)
Los Angeles County $14.25 (26 or more employees, effective 7/1/19)
$13.25 (25 or fewer employees)
Malibu $14.25 (26 or more employees, effective 7/1/19)
$13.25 (25 or fewer employees)
Milpitas $15.00 (effective 7/1/19)
Mountain View $16.05 (effective 1/1/20)
Oakland $14.14 (effective 1/1/20)
Palo Alto $15.00 (effective 1/1/19)
Pasadena $14.25 (26 or more employees, effective 7/1/19)
$13.25 (25 or fewer employees)
Redwood City $15.38 (effective 1/1/20)
Richmond $15.00 (effective 1/1/19)
San Diego $13.00 (effective 1/1/20)
San Francisco $15.59 (effective 7/1/19)
San Jose $15.00 (effective 1/1/19)
San Leandro $14.00 (effective 7/1/19)
San Mateo $15.38 (effective 1/1/20)
$13.50 (nonprofits)
Santa Clara $15.00 (effective 1/1/19)
Santa Monica $14.25 (26 or more employees, effective 7/1/19)
(25 or fewer employees)
Sunnyvale $16.05 (effective 1/1/20)
Colorado $11.10 (effective 1/1/19)
Connecticut $10.10 (effective 1/1/17)
Delaware $8.75 (effective 1/1/19)
District of Columbia $14.00 (effective 7/1/19)
Florida $8.56 (effective 1/1/20)
$5.54 (for employees who receive tips, effective 1/1/20)
Georgia $5.15 (Basic Minimum Rate, 6 or more employees)
Hawaii $10.10 (effective 1/1/18)
Idaho $7.25
Illinois $8.25
Chicago $13.00 (effective 7/1/19)
Cook County $12.00 (effective 7/1/19)
Indiana $7.25
Iowa $7.25
Kansas $7.25
Kentucky $7.25
Louisiana $7.25
Maine $11.00 (effective 1/1/19)
Portland $11.11 (effective 7/1/19)
Maryland $10.10 (effective 7/1/19)
Montgomery County $13.00 (51 or more employees, effective 7/1/19)
$12.50 (50 or fewer employees)
Prince George’s County $11.50
Massachusetts $12.00 (effective 1/1/19)
Michigan $9.45 (effective 3/29/19)
Minnesota $10.00 (Large Employer: for annual sales of $500K or more, effective 1/1/20)
$8.15 (Small Employer: for annual sales less than $500K or less, Effective 1/1/20)
$8.15 (Youth wage, may be paid to employees age 17 or younger, effective 1/1/20)
$8.15 (Training wage, effective 1/1/20)
$8.15 (J-1 Visa per hour, effective 1/1/20)
Minneapolis $12.25 (101 or more employees, effective 7/1/19)
$11.00 (100 or fewer employees)
Saint Paul $12.50 (Effective 1/1/20—06/30/22)
Mississippi $7.25
Missouri $8.60 (effective 1/1/19)
Montana $8.50 (effective 1/1/19; no poster required)
Nebraska $9.00 (effective 1/1/16)
Nevada $8.25 (without health benefits, effective 7/1/19)
$7.25 (with health benefits)
New Hampshire $7.25
New Jersey $10.00 (most employers, effective 7/1/19)
$8.85 (seasonal, small [under 6 employees], and agricultural employers)
New Mexico $7.50
Albuquerque $9.35 (without healthcare and/or childcare benefits, effective 1/1/20)
$8.20 (with healthcare and/or childcare benefits)
Bernalillo County $9.05 (effective 1/1/19)
Las Cruces $10.10 (effective 1/1/19)
Santa Fe $11.80 (effective 3/1/19)
Santa Fe County $11.80 (effective 3/1/19)
New York $15.00 (New York City, 11 or more employees, effective 12/31/18)
$13.50 (New York City, 10 or fewer employees)
$12.00 (Long Island & Westchester County)
$11.10 (Remainder of New York State)
North Carolina $7.25
North Dakota $7.25
Ohio $8.70 (effective 1/1/20)
Oklahoma $7.25
Oregon $12.50 (Portland Metro, effective 7/1/19)
$11.25 (Standard)
$11.00 (Non-urban Counties)
Pennsylvania $7.25
Rhode Island (effective 1/1/19)
South Carolina $7.25
South Dakota $9.30 (effective 1/1/20)
$4.65 (for employees who receive tips, effective 1/1/20)
Tennessee $7.25
Texas $7.25
Utah $7.25
Vermont $10.96 (effective 1/1/20)
$5.48 (the basic wage rate, effective 1/1/20)
$5.48 (for employees who receive tips, effective 1/1/20)
Virginia $7.25
Washington $12.00 (effective 1/1/19)
Seattle $16.00 (501 or more employees, effective 1/1/19)
$15.00 (500 or fewer employees without benefits or tips)
$12.00 (500 or fewer employees with benefits or tips)
Tacoma $12.35 (effective 1/1/19)
West Virginia $8.75 (effective 1/1/16)
Wisconsin $7.25
Wyoming $5.15
Federal $7.25
FEDERAL CONTRACTOR $10.60 (effective 1/1/19)
Stay in the know.
Stay in compliance.

How often does the federal wage increase?

There is no set schedule for the automatic increase of the minimum wage, whether at the federal, state, or local level. To raise the federal wage, Congress must pass a bill, and the president must sign it into law.

Similar legislative processes occur at the state and local levels. In 2019, 20 states raised their wage rate and required employers to notify employees of the new wage.

Sometimes state and local governments set an incremental yearly increase if they want to hit a particular target. For instance, California has scheduled yearly wage increases for small (under 25 employees) and large (26 or more employees) employers with the goal of hitting $15.00 by 2022 and 2023: the current rate for small employers is $11.00, and it’s $12.00 for large employers. The law in New York is even more detailed. For large employers with at least 11 employees in New York City, the current wage is $15.00; it drops to $13.50 for small employers with 10 or fewer employees. For Long Island and Westchester, the rate is $12.00, regardless of employer size. And the rest of the state is currently at $11.10. The wage for all locations will increase yearly through 2021 until they reach $15.00.

Other states adjust their wages to match the rise in the cost of living. These inflation adjustments are generally smaller and may occur annually or less often. As an example, Florida and New Jersey both adjust their rates annually to account for inflation.

Additionally, 45 localities currently have their own minimum wage, including cities and counties in Arizona, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Washington.

Wage notices and posters

Employers must post a notice explaining the provisions of the FLSA and applicable state and local wage laws—and they must ensure that they have the latest version of that information posted at all times. Bookmark this page to stay up to date on changes in the wage at the federal, state, and local levels. And contact us if you need help navigating the complex requirements relating to posters about wage and hour laws.