Few changes in state minimum wages

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Few changes in state minimum wages

Fri, 01/07/2011

Except for a handful of states primarily in the West, hourly workers across the U.S. aren’t in line to get raises this year.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 24 states set their minimum wage the same as the Federal rate of $7.25 per hour. President Obama has said he supports both raising that figure and indexing it to changes in the annual inflation rate, but no legislation is yet in place or in the works to do so.

Sixteen states have higher minimum wages than the Federal rate, four are lower (Arkansas, Georgia, Minnesota, Wyoming), and five have no minimum (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee). In 2010 Washington had the highest rate in the country at $8.55 per hour. Among states that do set a minimum wage, Georgia and Wyoming were the lowest by far at $5.15.

The remaining 10 states automatically adjust minimum wages according to their computed changes in inflation, and rates in seven of them have gone up modestly for 2011: Arizona (+10¢), Colorado (+11¢), Montana (+10¢), Ohio (+10¢), Oregon (+10¢), Vermont (+9¢) and Washington (+12¢).

Dairies continue to struggle with a widening gap between rising costs of feed and production and falling milk prices, so even the tiny jump in labor cost that may result from higher minimum wages will only add to the severe financial pressure they face in 2011.