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19 US states bump up minimum wage at start of 2017

Low wage workers rally in a protest named "Day of Disturbance" to demand higher wages at San Diego International Airport in San Diego, California, November 29, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Nineteen US states have announced a raise in minimum wage at the beginning of 2017, a move that follows long-running nationwide protests for fairer incomes.

The wages would see an immediate increase in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington.

Oregon, Washington, DC, and Maryland would also increase their current rates later in the year.

The increase is different from one state to the state and in some cases from county to county.

In the state of New York, for example, the minimum pay will be bumped up to $11 in New York City, $10 in downstate suburbs, and $9.70 in other parts.

This is while, small businesses in New York City would increase the wage to $10.50, the ABC reported.

The federal government has refused to raise the national minimum wage since July 2009, when it was raised from $6.55 to $7.25.

Business owners are against increasing the minimum wage, arguing that it could make it harder for them to turn a profit.

The workers on the other hand, argue that with the current wages it is impossible to afford basic housing, let alone covering other expenses.

Since 2012, protesters have sought to increase the federal minimum wage, only to see their hopes dashed by the Republican-controlled Congress.

President-elect Donald Trump’s election further complicated the matter as the Manhattan billionaire flip-flopped on the issue during his campaign, giving different responses ranging from “you need flexibility” to “everything is negotiable.”

In August last year, he said he would make “great jobs” that earn a lot more than $15 an hour but a low minimum wage was “not a bad thing.”

He again opposed a raise in November 2015, saying wages were “too high” and “we have to leave it the way it is.”

Days later, he denied calling the wages too high, saying he supported a raise but refused to clarify whether he meant federal minimum wage or the state minimum wage.

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