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Facts - Books - News    U.S. Facts Of Law:

Employment Wages


Employment wages are sums of money paid for a specified quantity of labor.  When expressed as an amount of money for a specific time frame it is called a wage rate.  The wage rate is usually the most important aspect of negotiation with regards to the employment contract.

A salary is an employment wage that is normally not paid by the hour but more often at a monthly or annual rate.  The term, salary, derives from an earlier time when employee wages included, among other things, salt.

Wages in the United States are mostly market driven and heavily dependent upon the number of jobs available versus the number of qualified workers available to fill those jobs.  Hourly wages in the U.S. vary depending upon the job requirements and worker availability and can vary from a minimum wage of a few dollars per hour up to one hundred dollars per hour or more.

Minimum wage rates have been established by federal and state governments in an effort to prevent exploitation of low skilled, low paid workers.

Minimum Wages In The United States

The first minimum wage established by the federal government was $0.25 per hour as established by the National Recovery Act of 1933.  The U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1935 that the law establishing the minimum was was unconstitutional and it was abolished until 1938 when Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act again establishing the minimum wage at $0.25 per hour again which amounted to $3.22 in 2005 dollars.  The federal minimum wage reached its highest purchasing power in 1968 when it was set at $1.60 per hour or $8.85 in 2005 dollars.

During the 1990's states local jurisdictions were allowed to set their own minimum wage above that established by federal statute.  Some states and cities have enacted legislation that increases the minimum wage above federal levels.  The most notable is the City of San Francisco which currently has the highest minimum wage of any jurisdiction in the United States.


The debate over where to set the minimum wage rages around two issues.  The first being the supposed right of any worker to receive sufficient income to lead a normal life.  This is opposed on the other side by the second that stresses that wages should be market driven and some businesses are placed at a disadvantage when forced to pay a higher wage than that set by a free wage market.  The latter can have a disastrous effect on the economy if business is forced to pay some workers more than they produce in return.  Some have proposed indexing the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index thereby eliminating the debate each time a higher rate is proposed.

Below is a list of the recent minimum wage as set by each state for those jobs covered by the minimum wage laws.  Some jobs which are in small companies or include tip income may be subject to lower minimum wage rates.  Some local jurisdictions may have higher minimum wages within states and are not noted.

Legal Minimum Employment Wage by State

* Federal $6.55 (29 USC Sec. 206)

* Alabama No state minimum wage law.
* Alaska $7.55
* Arizona $6.90
* Arkansas $6.25
* California $8.00 ($9.36 in San Francisco)
* Colorado $7.02
* Connecticut $7.65
* Delaware $7.15
* District of Columbia $7.55
* Florida $6.79 (rises with inflation)
* Georgia $5.15
* Hawaii $7.25
* Idaho $6.55
* Illinois $7.75
* Indiana $6.55
* Iowa $7.25
* Kansas $2.65
* Kentucky $6.55
* Louisiana No state minimum wage law.
* Maine $7.00
* Maryland $6.55
* Massachusetts $8.00
* Michigan $7.40
* Minnesota $6.15
* Mississippi No state minimum wage law
* Missouri $6.65
* Montana $6.55
* Nebraska $6.55
* Nevada $6.85
* New Hampshire $6.55
* New Jersey $7.15
* New Mexico $6.50
* New York $7.15
* North Carolina $6.55
* North Dakota $6.55
* Ohio $7.00
* Oklahoma $6.55
* Oregon $7.95
* Pennsylvania $7.15
* Rhode Island $7.40
* South Carolina No state minimum wage law
* South Dakota $6.55
* Tennessee No state minimum wage law
* Texas $6.55
* Utah $6.55
* Vermont $7.68
* Virginia $6.55
* Washington $8.07 (with future increases linked to inflation)
* West Virginia $7.25
* Wisconsin $6.50
* Wyoming $5.15



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Target Just Gave Employees A Raise Hereaposs What 19 Other Major Retailers P...
CNBC Target just gave employees a raise here39s what 19 other major retailers pay CNBC The approaching holiday season means more shopping, and as a result, more jobs in retail. For some retail employees, it will also mean higher wages. Target announced today that it would raise its minimum wage above 10 beginning in October, eventually Target39s pay bump could boost other retail wagesOrlando Sentinel Target Raises Base Pay to 11 an Hour Heading Into HolidaysNew York Times Target39s pay hike could be especially beneficial for North Carolina workersCharlotte Observer blog BuzzFeed News Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal Retail Dive all 403 news articles raquo

AposLook, I Can Quitapos: Why Target Is Giving Workers A Big Raise Washingto...
Greensboro News Record 39Look, I can quit39: Why Target is giving workers a big raise Washington Post As employers across the country are struggling to fill jobs, Target just took a bold step to attract and keep more workers. The retail giant unveiled plans Monday to raise its minimum hourly wage to 11 by October and pledged to reach 15 in 2020. Target joins retailer trend of raising minimum wage to at least 11 an hourGreensboro News Record Target to Raise Minimum Hourly Wage to 15 by 2020AppsforPCdaily all 42 news articles raquo

Maintaining Full Employment Is The Key To Raising Wages The New Yorker
The New Yorker Maintaining Full Employment Is the Key to Raising Wages The New Yorker Conversely, when the unemployment rate is low, full time jobs are easier to find. To keep their employees and attract new ones, firms have to try harder. Wages and incomes tend to rise. Over the past couple of years, according to the Census Bureau and more raquo

Latest Study On Federal Compensation Puts Public, Private Pay Gap At Widest M...
FederalNewsRadio.com Latest study on federal compensation puts public, private pay gap at widest margin yet FederalNewsRadio.com With the release of every new study examining federal employee compensation comes different numbers and familiar arguments. But a recent report from the Cato Institute39s Downsizing the Federal Government project describes, by far, the largest pay and

Target Proves Karl Marx Was Right About Why Wages Rise Washington Examiner
Washington Examiner Target proves Karl Marx was right about why wages rise Washington Examiner Marx said it was full employment not raucous mobs in the street or union posturing. And as the United States has returned to full employment following that little banking unpleasantness, we39re seeing wages rise, just as Marx would have predicted

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Facts of Law covering employee wage laws

Facts of Law - Employee Wages