Top 20 states in America with a high minimum wage and low cost of living - ForumDaily
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Top 20 American States with High Minimum Wages and Low Cost of Living

Edition Yahoo! looked at the 20 states with the highest minimum wages and lowest costs of living to see how well income covers living expenses in those states.

Photo: IStock

The federal minimum wage in the United States is just $7,25 an hour and has remained unchanged since it was established in 2009. The protests in New York sparked a nationwide political movement called the Fight for $15. The movement includes strikes by workers at airports, gas stations, stores, and has even affected the child care and health care sectors.

The movement has had its successes: many state governments have announced gradual annual increases in the minimum wage to $15. Locally, cities like New York, Seattle and San Francisco, where the cost of living is significantly higher, have already raised their minimum wage to $15. However, workers continue to mobilize regularly across the US, especially in states without a minimum wage and where wages are equal to the federal level.

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The ranking includes states with the highest minimum wages and lowest cost of living. To find out how the minimum wage helps cover the cost of living, you need to divide the salary by the cost of living index for each state. States are ranked in ascending order of these scores.

The Cost of Living Index tracks changes in basic costs and shows how they vary by city or state.

Most indexes set a base cost of living, often equal to 100. The base can be the cost of living in one region or the average of several regions. For example, if Chicago is chosen as the base city, and living in Boston is 20% more expensive, then the cost of living in Boston will be 120.

Data was used to obtain cost of living index data for each state Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC). The index is based on six components: housing, utilities, food, transportation, healthcare, and various goods and services. The national average for all 273 participating districts is 100 points.

Top 20 States with the Highest Minimum Wages and Lowest Cost of Living

20. Minnesota
  • Minimum wage: $10,59
  • Cost of Living Index: 94,4
  • Point: 0,1122

On January 1, 2024, the minimum wage in Minnesota will increase to $10,85 per hour. This will apply to all major employers operating in the state. On the other hand, small employers whose gross annual income does not exceed $500 are currently required to pay a minimum of $000 per hour, with that rate rising to $8,63 starting next year.

19. New York
  • Minimal salary: $14,2
  • Cost of Living Index: 126,5
  • Point: 0,1123

The cost of living in New York is nearly 30% higher than the national average, but it has the fourth-highest hourly minimum wage in the country at $14,2, which is set to rise to $15 next year. The minimum wage in New York City, Long Island and Westchester is already $15 and will be raised to $1 on January 16.

18. California
  • Minimum wage: $15,5
  • Cost of Living Index: 136,4
  • Point: 0,1136

California has one of the highest costs of living in the US, but this is offset by significantly higher minimum wage rates compared to the rest of the country. State law requires all employers to pay $15,50 as the minimum wage, which will increase by $0,50 on January 1, 2024. The minimum wage for fast food workers will be raised to $20 on April 1, 2024.

17. Vermont
  • Minimum wage: $13,18
  • Cost of Living Index: 114,9
  • Point: 0,1147

The Vermont Legislature passed a law in 2020 requiring the state to annually calculate and increase wages in proportion to the consumer price index. Vermont's minimum wage is on par with most other states in the Northeast. According to the state government, from 2024 the minimum wage will increase by 49 cents.

16. Nebraska
  • Minimum wage: $10,5
  • Cost of Living Index: 91
  • Point: 0,1154

The minimum wage in Nebraska is 45% higher and the cost of living is 9% lower than the US average. The state's minimum wage increased from $9 in 2022 to $10,5 in 2023, with plans to raise it to $2026 by 15.

15. Rhode Island
  • Minimum wage: $13
  • Cost of Living Index: 112
  • Point: 0,1161

The state's minimum wage will increase by $1 per year to reach $2025 by early 15, according to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training. An exception will be full-time students under the age of 19 working in any non-profit or public organization, as well as persons aged 14-15 who work no more than 24 hours per week.

14. Delaware
  • Minimum wage: $11,75
  • Cost of Living Index: 100,8
  • Point: 0,1166

Delaware's minimum wage in 2023 will be more than $4 higher than the US federal minimum wage. Over the next few years, this salary is projected to increase by about 30% to $2025 by 15. This is an encouraging trend for local residents, given that the cost of living is in line with the national average.

13. South Dakota
  • Minimum wage: $10,8
  • Cost of Living Index: 91,8
  • Point: 0,1176

South Dakota ranks among the states with the highest minimum wage and lowest cost of living, with housing and utilities costing about 15% less than the U.S. average. On January 1, 2024, the state's minimum wage will increase by 40 cents.

12. Virginia
  • Minimum wage: $12
  • Cost of Living Index: 101,4
  • Point: 0,1183

Virginia has one of the highest minimum wages in the United States. What sets the state apart is that it does not exempt tipped workers from receiving the same minimum wage as other employees. In most other states, tipped workers are typically paid 50% of the state minimum wage. Virginia has come a long way when it comes to raising the minimum wage. In 2021 it was $9,50 per hour; According to forecasts, by 2026 it will be raised to $15.

11. Oregon
  • Minimum wage: $14,2
  • Cost of Living Index: 114,7
  • Point: 0,1238

Oregon ranks fourth in the United States for wages, tied with New York. This year in July, wages were increased by 70% taking into account inflation from March 2022 to 2023. By law, workers in Portland are paid $1,25 more than the state's base wage, while workers in rural areas are paid $1 an hour less. Thus, depending on the location of work, wages in Oregon range from $13,20 to $15,45 per hour.

10. Arkansas
  • Minimum wage: $11
  • Cost of Living Index: 88,5
  • Point: 0,1243

The minimum wage in Arkansas is significantly higher than the federal minimum wage of $7,25. The cost of living in the state is also low - about 11% less than the national average. Housing is especially cheap, with an index of 73,1 points.

9. Maine
  • Minimal salary: $13,8
  • Cost of Living Index: 110,7
  • Point: 0,1247

All businesses operating in Maine, even those with one employee, are subject to the state's minimum wage law and are required to pay their workers at least $13,8 per hour. From 2024, the wage rate should rise to $14,15, which will be driven by a 2,4% increase in the cost of living index between August 2022 and 2023.

8. Arizona
  • Minimum wage: $13,85
  • Cost of Living Index: 110
  • Point: 0,1259

Arizona has one of the highest minimum wages in the United States, which is scheduled to increase to $14,35 on January 1, 2024. The cost of living in the state is 10% higher than the national average. The annual cost of living for a single person in Arizona is $60.

7. Colorado
  • Minimum wage: $13,65
  • Cost of Living Index: 106,9
  • Point: 0,1277

The Colorado government intends to increase the minimum wage in 2024 to $14,42, which is 5,6% more than this year. The minimum wage in the city and county of Denver will rise to $1 an hour from $18,29 on Jan. 17,29 to keep up with the high cost of living in the state capital.

6. New Mexico
  • Minimum wage: $12
  • Cost of Living Index: 93,9
  • Point: 0,1278

Next on the list is New Mexico, where the minimum wage covers the cost of living much more than other states, thanks to a prevailing wage rate of $12 and a cost of living index that is more than six points below the national average.

5. New Jersey
  • Minimum wage: $14,13
  • Cost of Living Index: 110,3
  • Point: 0,1281

Although the cost of living in New Jersey is only slightly higher than the national average, its minimum wage level is almost double the federal minimum hourly wage. The minimum wage will increase to $15,13 beginning in January 2024, according to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

4. Connecticut
  • Minimum wage: $15
  • Cost of Living Index: 113,9
  • Point: 0,1317

Connecticut is one of the richest states in the United States, so it's no surprise that it has the third-highest minimum wage rate in the country. In September 2023, Governor Ned Lamont announced an increase in the hourly rate to $15,69 effective January 1, 2024. This will be the first automatic wage adjustment in Connecticut history after it was tied to inflation.

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3. Missouri
  • Minimum wage: $12
  • Cost of Living Index: 88,3
  • Point: 0,1359

Missouri has some of the lowest home prices in the United States. Transport costs are also 12% lower than in other parts of the country. Missouri voted for a law that increases the wage rate by 85 cents each year from 2018 to 2023, causing wages to rise from $7,85 an hour to the current $12 in that short period of time. In 2024, the wage rate will be adjusted in proportion to the consumer price index.

2. Washington
  • Minimum wage: $15,74
  • Cost of Living Index: 115,7
  • Point: 0,1360

Washington has the highest minimum wage of any state in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In 2024, the hourly rate will increase further to $16,28, meaning a full-time worker will earn $34 per year. The minimum wage rate adjustment comes as the state's cost of living increases by 000%. There are 3,3 cities in Washington where salaries are above the state average. These are SeaTac ($19,06), Tukwila ($18,99) and Seattle ($18,69).

1. Illinois
  • Minimum wage: $13
  • Cost of Living Index: 91,8
  • Point: 0,1416

Illinois tops the list of states where high minimum wages do the most to offset rising costs of living compared to other states in the country. The state government plans to increase wage rates in Illinois by $1 per year for the next two years, after which the state's hourly wage rate will reach $2025 by 15.

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