21 states in the U.S. began 2020 with higher minimum wages, including Alaska, Florida, Ohio, California, New Jersey, and New York. Some of these states automatically increased their minimum wage based on the cost of living, while some increased it as a result of legislation passed. As of January 1, 2020, Washington State has the highest state minimum wage, at 13.50 U.S. dollars per hour. However, some cities have their own minimum wage, such as New York City, which had a minimum wage of 15 U.S. dollars per hour, as compared to the statewide minimum wage of 11.80 U.S. dollars per hour in 2020.
Unfortunately, the minimum wage is not equivalent to a living wage anymore, and many Americans work more than one minimum wage job in order to make ends meet. For example, San Jose, California, had the highest annual income requirement for comfortable living in 2018 out of the most populous cities in the United States. As one of the most global and innovative cities, there is a high cost of living, which makes living on the current minimum wage hard to sustain.
The leisure and hospitality industry had the highest number of workers paid the minimum wage in 2018, with about 1.05 million workers making minimum wage. In that same year, most minimum-wage workers were between 16 and 24 years old, and most of them were white. In 2018, Louisiana had the highest number of minimum wage workers out of all 50 states. In that same year, around 606,000 low wage workers had some college, but no degree -- a clear majority. As of 2018, there were about 1.28 million workers in the United States paid an hourly rate below the prevailing federal wage.