Minimum Wage

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

Does the state have a minimum wage that allows a family of three to reach the federal poverty threshold?

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
Alabama No Policy Same
Alaska Limited Policy Same
Arizona Weak Policy Worse
Arkansas Weak Policy Worse
California Limited Policy Same
Colorado Weak Policy Worse
Connecticut Limited Policy Same
Delaware Weak Policy Worse
District of Columbia Limited Policy Same
Florida Weak Policy Worse
Georgia Weak Policy Same
Hawaii Weak Policy Worse
Idaho Weak Policy Same
Illinois Limited Policy Same
Indiana Weak Policy Same
Iowa Weak Policy Same
Kansas Weak Policy Same
Kentucky Weak Policy Same
Louisiana No Policy Same
Maine Limited Policy Same
Maryland Weak Policy Worse
Massachusetts Limited Policy Same
Michigan Limited Policy Same
Minnesota Weak Policy Worse
Mississippi No Policy Same
Missouri Weak Policy Worse
Montana Weak Policy Worse
Nebraska Weak Policy Same
Nevada 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
Ohio Limited Policy Same
Oklahoma Weak Policy Same
Oregon Meets Policy Same
Pennsylvania Weak Policy Worse
Rhode Island Limited Policy Same
South Carolina No Policy Same
South Dakota Weak Policy Same
Tennessee No Policy Same
Texas Weak Policy Same
Utah Weak Policy Same
Vermont Limited Policy Same
Virginia Weak Policy Same
Washington Meets Policy Same
West Virginia Weak Policy Worse
Wisconsin Weak Policy Worse
Wyoming Weak Policy Same

Policy Indicator Counts
Meets Policy: 
Limited Policy: 
Weak Policy: 
No/Harmful Policy: 

Data Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "Employment Standards Administration: Wage and Hour Division," January 1, 2010, available at, 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, 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


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, accessed September 24, 2010.

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