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Minimum wage hike: Good policy or good politics?

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Thirteen states will raise their minimum wage this week and another 11 states plus the District of Columbia are expected to vote on increasing hourly wages in the new year.

The current federal minimum wage has been $7.25 since July 2009. Twenty-one states pay a higher minimum wage than the federal limit. 

Related: Top Reason to Raise the Minimum Wage: It’s 30% Below 1968 Level After Inflation

Fast-food workers staged walkouts and strikes earlier this year, demanding a $15 per hour living wage. President Obama says he supports raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3.6 million hourly workers received wages at or below federal minimums in 2012. 

Democrats in Congress are rallying behind the increases in minimum wage ahead of the 2014 midterm elections. A Gallup poll found that 76% of Americans support a hike in the minimum wage.

Related: Abolish Tipping to Eliminate the $2.13 Minimum Wage

"Republican voters support raising the minimum wage by 60% in the latest national poll that we have on the issue whereas Republican elected officials don't hesitate to oppose it," says Jack Temple, policy analyst at the National Employment Law Policy Project.

Critics of the minimum wage hike claim that these increases will impact hiring, burden small businesses, and cause prices to rise.

Related: McDonald’s Should Share Billions in Profits With Fast Food Workers: Labor Organizer

“Income inequality is the defining issue of our age,” says Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Aaron Task. “You have the wealthiest 10% getting wealthier and wealthier and everybody else struggling more and more…so what does it mean for small businesses? Are they going to hire less, are there fewer jobs out there? But for the people who have minimum wage jobs it’s almost impossible to say to them ‘no you don’t deserve a raise.’”

Here are the states increasing their minimum wages on Jan. 1:

Arizona- from $7.80 to $7.90 an hour
California- from $8.00 to $9 an hour
Colorado- from $7.78 to $8 an hour
Connecticut- from $8.25 to $8.70 an hour
Florida- from $7.79 to $7.93 an hour
Missouri- from $7.35 to $7.50 an hour
Montana- from $7.80 to $7.90 an hour
New Jersey- from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour
New York- from $7.25 to $8 an hour
Ohio- from $7.85 to $7.95 an hour
Oregon- from $8.95 to $9.10 an hour
Rhode Island- from $7.75 to $8 an hour
Vermont- from $8.60 to $8.73 an hour
Washington- from $9.19 to $9.32 an hour

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