Bernie Sanders may be long out of the presidential race, but one of his central policies will be on ballots in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington state on Nov. 8. Voters in those states will decide whether to raise their minimum wages.
In Arizona, where the hourly minimum wage currently stands at $8.05, Proposition 206 would raise it to $10 in 2017, $10.50 in 2018, $11 in 2019 and $12 in 2020. The state’s Proposition 202 already indexes the minimum wage to align with the cost of living, but at a slower rate—without the new proposition, the minimum would hit $8.15 in 2017.
Advocates for Colorado’s Amendment 70 want to raise the figure to $9.30 per hour from its current $8.31 by 2017, and then by 90 cents each year until 2020, when it would reach $12.
In Maine, where the minimum is $7.50, a “yes” vote for Question 4 would raise it to $12 by 2020, and would also increase the hourly wage for tipped workers from $3.75 to $5 in 2017.
Washington voters will decide on Initiative 1433, which would raise the minimum from $9.47 today to $13.50 by 2020. It would also require employers to offer paid sick leave.
In South Dakota, the minimum wage will also be on the ballot, but voters will be choosing whether to lower it, rather than raise it, to $7.50 from $8.50 in a referendum on Senate Bill 177.
The District of Columbia has the highest minimum wage, with $11.50, followed by a tie between California and Massachusetts, with $10. On the low end of the spectrum, Georgia and Wyoming both have $5.15 minimum wages, and are therefore subject to the federal minimum of $7.25.
The federal minimum—which is effectively used in 21 states, despite some having no state-level minimum and others having minimums below $7.25—was last raised in 2009. But that’s using nominal dollars, not the purchasing power of those dollars as the U.S. currency’s value has changed over time. In real dollars, the federal minimum peaked in 1968 at $8.54 (in 2014 dollars), according to the Pew Research Center.
Proponents of a higher minimum wage, like Sanders, argue that hourly pay in the single digits isn’t livable. Those against increases point to the possibility that the extra expense will cause employers to lay off workers, and that a hike would predominantly affect young people already supported by their families, who aren’t in need of higher pay and would face layoffs under a wage floor.