Demonstrators prepare signs supporting the raising of the federal minimum wage during May Day demonstrations in New York on May 1, 2014.
Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Vermont to set highest state minimum wage in the U.S.


While Congress remains deadlocked over a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10, yet another state has taken the matter into its own hands. Earlier this week, Vermont’s legislature voted to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.50, the highest state-level minimum wage in the country.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, has not yet signed the law but said in a statement that he would be “proud” to do so.

Vermont’s minimum wage is currently $8.73, and the new increase would be gradually phased in over the next four years. The Green Mountain State is only the latest in a wave of blue states to hike base wages over $10 in 2014, following Connecticut, Maryland and Hawaii. Several municipal governments have raised their minimum wages even higher, and Seattle appears poised to go all the way to $15 per hour.

The prospects for a federal wage hike are considerably less rosy. Two weeks ago, a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 failed to clear the 60 votes required to bypass a Republican filibuster. Yet the Democrats’ decision to make a campaign issue out of the minimum wage appears to be giving some juice to state and local efforts, including in Vermont.