States can pass minimum wage laws that are above the federal minimum.1 This action is particularly important for women’s economic security as women ages 16 and over make up more than 68% of hourly wage workers earning the federal minimum wage or less.2
States with a minimum wage of $8.31 are allowing a family of three supported by a full-time, year-round, minimum-wage earner to reach the federal poverty level threshold and therefore receive a "meets policy." States with a minimum wage that falls below $8.31 but above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 receive a "limited policy." Those with a minimum wage that is at or below the federal minimum wage receive a "weak policy." States with no minimum wage laws receive a "no policy." Ratings have been given according to the current Federal Mimimum Wage of $7.25/hr, which has increased from the 2007 minimum wage of $5.85/hr. As a result, states whose minimum wages have remained constant since 2007 may receive a lower grade because they do not keep pace with the new federal minimum.
|State||Strength of Policy||Change from 2007|
|District of Columbia||Limited Policy||Same|
|New Hampshire||Weak Policy||Same|
|New Jersey||Weak Policy||Worse|
|New Mexico||Limited Policy||Better|
|New York||Weak Policy||Worse|
|North Carolina||Weak Policy||Worse|
|North Dakota||Weak Policy||Same|
|Rhode Island||Limited Policy||Same|
|South Carolina||No Policy||Same|
|South Dakota||Weak Policy||Same|
|West Virginia||Weak Policy||Worse|
Data Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "Employment Standards Administration: Wage and Hour Division," January 1, 2010, available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/america.htm, accessed May 27, 2010. For this indicator, the Report Card uses the federal poverty threshold. The 2009 federal poverty threshold for a family of 3 (with 2 children) is $17,285. U.S. Census Bureau, "Poverty Thresholds for 2009," June 2010, available at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/threshld/thresh09.html, accessed July 15, 2010. Based on these numbers a person working full-time, year-round would need to earn $8.31 per hour for her family of three to reach the poverty threshold for 2009. Please note that for some states in the "no policy" category, employers generally must pay at least the federal minimum wage for all workers covered by the federal law. However, they may pay lower amounts to the small number of workers exempt from federal coverage. A listing of the exemptions for the federal minimum wage mandate are available at http://www.twc.state.tx.us/news/efte/exemptions_from_minimum_wage_and_ov....
1 In May 2007, Congress and President Bush approved an increase in the minimum wage. The increase takes place in stages, with an initial increase to $5.85 beginning in the summer 2007 eventually reaching $7.25 by the summer of 2009.
2 Bureauof Labor Statistics, “Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers: 2007, Table 1,” (Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor statistics, 2007), available at http://www.bls.gov/cps/minwage2007tbls.htm#t10_2007.f.2, accessed September 24, 2010.