Millions of workers won higher pay and paid time off

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

On Tuesday, voters in four states approved significant wage increases for the lowest paid among them. In two of those states, voters also passed paid sick leave mandates.

The minimum wage is now set to eventually rise to $12 an hour by 2020 in Arizona, Colorado, and Maine, while it will go up to $13.50 in the same timeframe in Washington State. Maine’s law is also notable for getting rid of a lower wage requirement for workers who make tips and instead requiring that all workers be paid the same minimum wage; it becomes the eighth state to do so.

Altogether, 2.1 million workers will now get a raise this coming January.

The majority of states had already increased their minimum wages above the federal floor before Election Day, which has stood at $7.25 an hour for the last seven years. But just three were set to increase it to $12 or more: California, New York, and Oregon.

Arizona and Washington will also join the previous five states that have enacted paid sick days requirements that allow workers to accrue and use paid time off if they or their loved ones fall ill.

Meanwhile, there is no national requirement that all businesses have to give their employees paid sick leave, and about a third of the private sector workforce doesn’t get it. But on top of the seven states that have now passed their own laws, 30 municipalities have done the same.


This has been reposted from Think Progress.

Bryce Covert is the Economic Policy Editor for ThinkProgress. She was previously editor of the Roosevelt Institute’s Next New Deal blog and a senior communications officer. She is also a contributor for The Nation and was previously a contributor for ForbesWoman. Her writing has appeared on The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The Nation, The Atlantic, The American Prospect, and others. She is also a board member of WAM!NYC, the New York Chapter of Women, Action & the Media. Follow her on Twitter @brycecovert

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