Skip to main content

Contact: Erin Musgrave, 530-864-7014

Dec. 20, 2019 – Twenty-one states are kicking off the new year by raising their minimum wage, and business owners are speaking out in support. Business leaders say the increases taking effect on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 will boost consumer spending, reduce costly employee turnover, increase productivity and customer satisfaction, and strengthen local economies.

Six states (California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York) with minimum wage raises at the new year are on track to reach $15 an hour in coming years, and all businesses in New York City must pay at least $15 per hour as of Dec. 31, 2019. 

Thousands of business owners and executives have signed Business for a Fair Minimum Wage’s statements supporting state and federal increases because they believe a higher wage floor will increase consumer buying power, foster a more stable and productive workforce, and strengthen businesses and communities.

“Twenty-one states are ringing in the New Year with minimum wage increases, and that’s great news for business and our economy,” said Holly Sklar, CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. “It’s vital to remember that workers are also customers, and minimum wage increases boost the buying power of people living paycheck to paycheck. Minimum wage raises also pay off in lower employee turnover, reduced hiring and training costs, lower error rates, better productivity and happier customers.”

Business leaders supportive of minimum wage increases, including Business for a Fair Minimum Wage members below and others around the country, are available for interviews.

Gail Friedberg, Co-Owner of  Zago Manufacturing, Newark, NJ: “We’re thrilled New Jersey’s minimum wage is increasing. We know from experience that fair pay is better for business. It brings low turnover, which helps us innovate. With a higher wage floor and more experienced workforce, business owners can think about ways to make the business better instead of spending time and money to replace people who can’t afford to stay. I also look forward to seeing the economic ripple effect from rising wages and consumer spending.”

Auden Schendler, Senior Vice President of Sustainability, Aspen Skiing Company, Colorado: “Paying people more improves business, it doesn’t hurt it. Henry Ford knew that years ago. Employees are more dedicated and more productive, and they have more money to spend in the community. Lifting the state minimum wage makes all kinds of sense.”

Gina Schaefer, Owner of A Few Cool Hardware Stores, a group of 11 Ace Hardware stores in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia: “Raising the minimum wage is about helping workers, businesses and communities thrive. Paying fair wages helps us attract and retain good employees delivering great customer service. That keeps customers coming back. When the minimum wage goes up, customers have more money to spend at hardware stores, grocers and all kinds of businesses.”

Pete Turner, Founder of Illegal Pete’s restaurant chain in Colorado and Arizona: “Illegal Pete’s is a champion for fair and sustainable employee wages. We understand firsthand the benefit in supporting a higher wage for businesses and the communities surrounding them. We implemented the final phase of our Living Wage initiative in January 2019, raising our tipped minimum wage to $15/hr. Since then, the company has continued to grow, even earning a spot on the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in the U.S. We continue to experience industry-leading low turnover rates, and our customers love supporting a business that takes care of its employees.”

Carole Laible, CEO of Domini Impact Investments, New York, NY: “Employees are vital stakeholders in business success. Businesses that treat their employees well, including by providing a fair wage, attain higher levels of employee engagement, increased productivity and decreased turnover – all substantial contributors to profitability.”

Elizabeth Colon, Owner of Metaphrasis Language & Cultural Solutions, Chicago and the 2014 Illinois Small Business Person of the Year: “Raising the minimum wage is good for business and good for Illinois. Poverty wages don’t just hurt workers, they weaken the consumer buying power that businesses depend on. Increasing the minimum wage will help neighborhoods across the state and strengthen our economy.”

Michael Kanter, Co-Owner of Cambridge Naturals, a Forbes Small Business Giant winner with stores in Cambridge and Boston, MA: “Raising the minimum wage is good for business and good for communities. Fair pay helps create a business culture that motivates staff, lowers employee turnover, encourages new ideas, and keep customers coming in our doors. And raising the minimum wage boosts the incomes of people who most need to turn around and spend it at local businesses.”

Laurie Knowlton, Owner of Pickwick Underground Framing and Zen3 Spa and Bodyworks, Springfield, MO: “Raising the minimum wage will increase employee morale, retention and productivity. And when the staff is more stable, it builds trust and helps businesses maintain a positive reputation. With a higher minimum wage, workers will earn more and spend more – creating more cash flow for local businesses and communities.”

Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, CEO of Earth Friendly Products, which manufactures ECOS® brand products in California, Illinois, New Jersey and Washington: “With a higher minimum wage, turnover is lower, productivity is higher and customer service is stronger, helping businesses succeed. We start employees at $17 an hour and provide great benefits, and we’re still able to sell our products at competitive prices. Raising the minimum wage is an important investment in American workers and businesses.”

Scheduled increases for Dec. 31, 2019 and Jan. 1, 2020 include:

  • Arizona increases to $12 on Jan. 1, 2020 and is indexed for annual cost of living increases starting in 2021
  • Arkansas increases to $10 on Jan. 1, 2020 and $11 in 2021
  • California increases to $13 on Jan. 1, 2020, $14 in 2021 and $15 in 2022. Small businesses with 25 employees or fewer have an extra year to comply, reaching $15 in 2023. After the minimum wage reaches $15 for all employees, it will be indexed for annual cost of living increases.
  • Colorado increases to $12 on Jan. 1, 2020 and indexed starting in 2021
  • Illinois increases to $9.25 on Jan. 1, 2020, $10 on July 1, 2020, $11 on Jan. 1, 2021, with future increases of $1 a year to reach $15 by 2025
  • Maine increases to $12 on Jan. 1, 2020 and indexed starting in 2021
  • Maryland increases to $11 on Jan. 1, 2020, with future increases to reach $15 in 2025. Small businesses with fewer than 15 employees reach $11 on Jan. 1, 2020, with future increases to reach $15 on Jan. 1, 2026.
  • Massachusetts increases to $12.75 on Jan. 1, 2020, with increases of 75 cents a year to reach $15 in 2023
  • Michigan increases to $9.65 on Jan. 1, 2020, with future small increases until it reaches $12.05 in 2030, “or a subsequent calendar year”
  • Missouri increases to $9.45 on Jan. 1, 2020, with future increases of 85 cents a year to reach $12 in 2023 and then indexed
  • New Jersey increases to $11 on Jan. 1, 2020, with future increases of $1 a year to reach $15 by 2024 and then indexed. Businesses with fewer than six employees increase to $10.30 on Jan. 1, 2020 and then rise more slowly to $15 in 2026.
  • New Mexico increases to $9 on Jan. 1, 2020, with future increases to $12 in 2023
  • New York 
    • New York City increases to $15 on Dec. 31, 2019 for businesses with 10 employees or fewer, putting all businesses in New York City at $15 
    • Long Island and Westchester increase to $13 on Dec. 31, 2019, $14 in 2020 and $15 in 2021
    • The rest of New York State increases to $11.80 on Dec. 31, 2019 and $12.50 on Dec. 31, 2020. Annual increases starting in 2021 will bring the rest of New York to $15 on a schedule to be determined based on cost of living and other indices.
  • Washington state increases to $13.50 on Jan. 1, 2020 and indexed for annual cost of living increases starting in 2021

States with indexing where annual cost of living adjustments will take effect Jan. 1, 2020 include:

  • Alaska increases to $10.19
  • Florida increases to $8.56
  • Minnesota increases to $10
  • Montana increases to $8.65
  • Ohio increases to $8.70 
  • South Dakota increases to $9.30
  • Vermont increases to $10.96

Looking ahead, Nevada, Oregon and the District of Columbia have increases scheduled for July 1, 2020 and Connecticut will raise its minimum wage on Sep. 1, 2020. D.C.’s minimum wage will reach $15 in July 2020 and Connecticut is phasing in a $15 minimum wage by 2023.

The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since July 24, 2009—the longest period in history without a raise. On July 18, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Raise the Wage Act, which would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025, but the Senate has not acted.

To speak to business owners supportive of raising the minimum wage, please contact Erin Musgrave at, 530-864-7014.


Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a national network of business owners and executives and business organizations that believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense.