Millions of Americans will receive higher pay this year in 22 states plus Washington, D.C.

By Emma Margolin
January 1, 2017

Millions of Americans are set to receive higher pay in the new year, despite the potential confirmation of a millionaire labor secretary who once opposed the Obama administration’s efforts to raise the federal minimum wage.

Twenty-two states, plus the District of Columbia, will see their minimum wages increase over the course of 2017, according to The Fairness Project, a nonprofit organization that supports progressive causes. In addition, dozens of cities will see similar hikes.

The raises are owed in large part to a strategy adopted by the Obama administration to circumvent an obstructionist Republican Congress. Rather than give up on their domestic policy agenda, the president and his aides have aggressively used the bully pulpit to push cities and states toward adopting key proposals — including a higher minimum wage.

The raises also reflect a galvanized grassroots effort that managed to convince an enormous number of voters of the need for higher pay.

“Seventy percent of these raises came from ballot initiatives,” Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of The Fairness Project, told NBC News. “So it’s not so much that there’s been a major shift from our elected officials… Rather, it’s low-wage workers, it’s their neighbors, it’s folks in their communities who overwhelmingly voted to support ballot initiatives raising the minimum wage.”

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