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Minimum Wage laws - Information on the law about Minimum Wage

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The federal government has established a minimum wage, or the least dollar amount that may be paid hourly workers, that applies to all workers in all fifty states who are engaged in interstate commerce or the production of goods for interstate commerce (and closely allied enterprises) or are employed by an enterprise engaged in interstate commerce or the production of goods for commerce. Businesses engaged in "interstate commerce" are defined as those with potential to come in contact with interstate travelers or consumers in other states.

Thus the federal minimum wage does not apply to all occupations. Domestic workers are not covered in many situations; fishermen, employees of certain small newspapers, babysitters, and agricultural seasonal workers in small family farms are some of the common exemptions from the federal minimum wage law. Others who are exempt include those in seasonal employment, such as at amusement parks or seasonal recreation centers, and in "exempt" occupations, such as managers, salesmen, or administrators who are not paid on an hourly basis. Further, if a local business does not qualify as participating in interstate commerce, it, too, would be exempt. These exempt occupations are covered by state minimum wage laws that can be higher or lower than the federal minimum wage which is now $5.15 per hour. However, if the state minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage and the employee is subject to both state and federal law, the higher rate will apply.

Subminimum wages are hourly rates below the established minimum wage that may be paid for a limited time to learners, apprentices, messengers, student workers, and those employed in occupations not ordinarily given to full-time workers. The subminimum wage permits businesses to be able to continue to hire certain types of workers in certain nontraditional, "convenience" occupations.

Overall, there is little variation among states in regard to the minimum wage. Since the federal government has established a national minimum wage covering virtually all occupations, most states have simply adopted that wage as their standard, though a few have established higher rates and a few lower. In the last few years, six states that had minimum wages set lower than the federal provision have revised theirs to match the federal rate, and six have bettered the federal rate. The most dramatic rise in the minimum wage is seen in Georgia, which recently raised its rate to $5.15 from $3.25! Surprisingly, three states still have a rate that is less than the federal rate. Two states have taken no action at all, perhaps determining that the market is the best regulator of wages. That is, if the wage is too low, the employer will either get no applicants or ones with no experience and no skills. Generally, the higher the wage, the better the applicant pool. However, there are circumstances in which workers may be taken advantage of either out of desperation or ignorance. This is precisely why the minimum wage exists.

Table 19: Minimum Wage

State Code Section Minimum Wage Per Hour Subminimum Wage Per Hour
FEDERAL Federal Labor Standards Act, 29 USC §206 $5.15 (eff. 9/1/99); applies to all employees covered by FLSA in 50 states, territories, and possessions except for American Samoa; standard applies to employees, not specifically exempt, who are: (1) engaged in interstate commerce; (2) engaged in production of goods for commerce; or (3) employed in an enterprise engaged in commerce or production of goods for commerce $4.25; for up to 90 days of training for individuals under 20 years of age
ALABAMA No statutory provisions    
ALASKA 23.10.065; 23.10.070 $7.15 (eff. 1/1/03); Public school bus drivers shall be paid double the minimum wage Department of Labor Commissioner to set rate of statutory minimum for learners and/or apprentices; individuals whose earning capacity is impaired due to physical or mental defect, age, or injury
ARIZONA §23-362 Can't exceed fed. min. wage None
ARKANSAS 11-4-201 to11-4-219 $5.15 (eff. 10/1/97) 85% min. wage for any full time student
CALIFORNIA Labor Code §1182.11 $5.75 (eff. 3/1/98) for all industries 85% of minimum wage rate for first 160 hours of employment, by state wage board order
COLORADO 8-6-109, et seq. The Director of the Division of Labor shall set the minimum wage rate appropriate for each occupation 85% of minimum wage to unemancipated minors or to persons with a physical disability
CONNECTICUT 31-58(j) $7.10 (eff. 1/1/04) or ½ of 1% rounded to the nearest whole cent more than the highest Fed. minimum wage, whichever is greater 85% of minimum wage for first 200 hours of employment
DELAWARE Tit. 19 §§902(a), 905, 906 $6.15 (eff. 10/1/00) Dept. of Labor may lower minimum wage rate for individuals whose earning capacity is impaired by age, physical or mental defect or injury and for learners and apprentices after public hearing and reasonable notice
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA 32-1003, 1004 $1.00 over federal minimum wage Specific rates established by wage orders for various categories of employees
FLORIDA No statutory provisions    
GEORGIA 34-4-3, 4 $5.15 Rate set by Commissioner
HAWAII 387-2, 9 $6.25 (eff. 1/1/03) Rate set by Director

Table 19: Minimum Wage—Continued

State Code Section Minimum Wage Per Hour Subminimum Wage Per Hour
IDAHO 44-1502, 1505, 1506 $5.15 (eff. 9/1/97) $4.25 for individuals under 20 years of age for first 90 days of employment; workers with disabilities if employer issued special certificate; rate set by Director for apprentices or learners
ILLINOIS 820 §105/4, 105/6, 105/5 $5.15 70% of minimum wage for up to six months for learners; workers with disabilities if employer issued special certificate
INDIANA 22-2-2-4 $5.15 (eff. 3/1/99) If under 20, $4.25 for first 90 days
IOWA 91D.1(1) $5.15 $4.25 if under 90 calendar days of employment
KANSAS 44-1203(a) and (b) $2.65; $5.15 if employer covered under 29 USC §206 80% of minimum wage for learners and apprentices; 90% after 2 months; full minimum wage after 3 months; 85% for handicapped and patient laborers with permit from Sec. of Human Resources
KENTUCKY 337.275(1) $5.15 None
LOUISIANA No statutory provisions    
MAINE Tit. 26 §664, 666.667 $6.25 (eff. 1/1/03) Director may issue special certificate for lower wages for individuals with disabilities due to age for a period not longer than 1 yr.; director may issue special certificate for learners or apprentices for lower wages for a time period fixed by the director
MARYLAND Labor & Employment 3-413, 410, 414 $5.15 Not less than 80% of the minimum wage for learners and apprentices; director may issue special certificate for individuals with disabilities for lower wage rates
MASSACHUSETTS Ch. 151 §§1, et seq. $6.75 Scale of rates for specified occupations
MICHIGAN 408.384, 384b, 387 $5.15 (eff. 9/1/97) less than 20 yrs., $4.25 first 90 days; director may set a lower wage for apprentices, learners, and individuals with physical or mental disabilities who are unable to meet normal production standards
MINNESOTA 177.24 $5.15; $4.90 for employer whose annual gross income is less than $500,000 $4.25 first 90 days if under 20 yrs. old

Table 19: Minimum Wage—Continued

State Code Section Minimum Wage Per Hour Subminimum Wage Per Hour
MISSISSIPPI No statutory provisions    
MISSOURI 290.502; 515; 517 $5.15 Director may set a lower wage for apprentices, learners, and individuals with physical or mental disabilities
MONTANA 39-3-404(1), 39-3-409 Must be equal to federal minimum wage, except if gross sales of employer are $110,000 or less, the minimum wage is $4.00 None
NEBRASKA 48-1203, 1203.01 $5.15 (eff. 9/1/97) $4.25 first 90 days if under 20 yrs. old
NEVADA Notice of Labor Commission dated 4/1/91 and §608.250(1) $5.15; $4.38 for employees below age 18 None
NEW HAMPSHIRE 279:21 $5.15 (eff. 9/1/97) 75% of the statutory minimum for learners and apprentices for up to 6 mos.
NEW JERSEY 34:11-56a4; 34:11-56a17 $5.15 (eff. 1/1/99) 85% of minimum wage with special certificate from commissioner
NEW MEXICO 50-4-22(A) $5.15 None
NEW YORK Labor Law §652(1) $5.15 (eff. 3/1/00) None
NORTH CAROLINA 95-25.3(a) and (b) $5.15 90% of the statutory minimum for learners and apprentices
NORTH DAKOTA 34-06-03, et seq. $5.15; the Commissioner of Labor may adopt standards for rates of minimum wage for each occupation in the state Student learners enrolled in vocational school may earn 85% of min. wage with commissioner approval. The Commissioner may issue permits to individuals to earn less than the minimum wage set for that occupation if the person is impaired physically or mentally or if s/he is a learner or an apprentice in that occupation
OHIO 4111.02 $4.25 80% for period not exceeding 180 days for learners
OKLAHOMA Tit. 40 §197.2, 11 $5.15 Commissioner of Labor shall set amount for learners and apprentices; individuals whose earning capacity is impaired by age or physical or mental deficiency or injury
OREGON 653.025, 070 $6.50 75% of minimum wage for student learners

Table 19: Minimum Wage—Continued

State Code Section Minimum Wage Per Hour Subminimum Wage Per Hour
PENNSYLVANIA Tit. 43 §333.104 $5.15 85% of the statutory minimum for learners and/or apprentices; individuals whose earning capacity is impaired by physical or mental deficiency or injury may be paid less if employer issued special certificate
RHODE ISLAND 28-12-3, 10 $6.15 (eff. 9/1/00) At rate determined by director of labor, for up to 90 days for learners; individuals whose earning capacity is impaired by physical or mental disabilities may be paid less if employer issued special certificate
SOUTH CAROLINA No statutory provisions Only for state employees  
SOUTH DAKOTA 60-11-3; 60-11-4.1; 60- 11-5 $5.15 Apprentices, learners, and individuals with mental or physical deficiencies may be paid less if employer issued special certificate; individuals under 20 may be paid opportunity wage
TENNESSEE No statutory provisions    
TEXAS Tex. Codes Ann. Labor 62.051, et seq. $5.15 60% of minimum wage for handicapped or persons over 65 yrs. old; or rate based on productive capacity for patients or clients of Dept. of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, individuals whose productive capacity is impaired, or individuals who receive services from the Dept.
UTAH 34-40-103 $5.15 $4.25 for first 90 days
VERMONT Tit. 21 §384(a), 385 $6.25 Determined by wage board for learners, apprentices, or handicapped persons
VIRGINIA 40.1-28.10 $5.15 None
WASHINGTON 49.46.020 Determined by the Dept. of Labor and Industries Director may issue special certificate for lower wages for learners, apprentices, messengers, and individuals whose earning capacity is impaired by age or physical or mental deficiency or injury
WEST VIRGINIA 21-5C-2 $5.15 $4.25 for first 90 days if under age 19
WISCONSIN Ch. 104.01, et seq. $5.15 The Department may make rules and grant licenses to any employer employing learner employees or handicapped employees

Table 19: Minimum Wage—Continued

State Code Section Minimum Wage Per Hour Subminimum Wage Per Hour
WYOMING 27-4-202 $5.15 If under 20, $4.25 for first 90 days
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