Twenty-one states and 35 cities and counties across the country will be starting the new year by raising their minimum wage. In addition, four other states plan to join them later in the year, along with 20 more locations.
The National Employment Law Project (NELP) says that it represents a record for the number of states, counties and municipalities raising their minimum wage in a single year. The group says high inflation rates may have pushed some places to change.
"We are seeing that at least some of those jurisdictions that have reached our target rate this year are raising wages by inflation," said Yannet Lathrop, a senior research and policy analyst at NELP. "That's a positive because as we know, now more than ever, inflation can take a big chunk out of paychecks if we don't adjust for that.
While 2022 is set to be a record-breaking year for boosting the minimum wage locally, it's a different story at the federal level, where the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour — the same it's been since 2009. That represents the minimum wage in 21 states across the country.
"Many of those states are actually in the South, where about half the Black population lives, and so it's really important to raise the federal minimum wage, not just because of what it could do for the the the U.S. workforce and the workers that could be affected by that, but also because of the potential racial equality impacts of that policy," Lathrop said.
Lathrop says it's fair to ask if the changes at the local level could push the federal government to also raise the national minimum wage in 2022.