From the fight to establish the first minimum wage law to today, there has always been resistance to the simple requirement that workers be paid a living wage for full-time work. The work for a fair minimum wage goes on, and in 2022 there are increases to report.

We want to say that this news means “Happy” New Year, but we know the incremental wage increases mean things are getting better for minimum wage workers – but are far from perfect. While the federal minimum wage is only $7.25/hrthe wage necessary for a single person to live life and afford the basics ranges from $12.61/hr (South Dakota) to $20.12/hr (Washington D.C.).  

The positive news is that there are many increases to report across the country, with 24 states and over 19 counties and cities mandating increases in their minimum wage in 2022.  

New York

A $15/hr minimum wage went into effect on Jan. 1 in three New York counties: Westchester, Suffolk, and Nassau. A $15 minimum wage for all workers in New York City went into effect two years ago. The remaining counties in New York are required to pay workers at least $13.20 an hour, a $0.70 increase from last year.


With a $1 an hour increase from 2021, California is the highest statewide minimum wage in the U.S. at $15 an hour. The California law only applies to employers who have 26 or more employees. The California minimum wage is $14 an hour for smaller employers and is set to rise to $15 an hour by 2023. In addition, several cities in California mandate their own – higher – minimum wages. 


The Biden administration was frustrated in its attempt to raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hr in 2021. However, the administration has required that all federal contractors pay their employees a $15/hr minimum wage. While many federal contractors pay more for certain positions, this order expands the requirement to lower-paid workers such as building cleaners, security personnel, and child care workers providing services under federal contracts. 

An additional and very important obligation that federal contractors have is that they must pay the “prevailing wage” for jobs in the area where they are working. This requirement essentially establishes a minimum wage for federal project workers based on what private employers in the area are paying. Government contractor fraud and wage violations are part of a multi-billion dollar-per-year burden that damages all taxpayers. 

Failure to pay the minimum wage is a part of the overall problem of wage theft, a violation that covers everything from minimum wage violations to unpaid commissions for sales and retail workers. 

At Pelton Graham, we get results – we don’t take every case, but if we accept yours, we promise we’ll do our very best to get you the best possible result.

If you have any questions regarding your rights as an employee, applicant, independent contractor, or anything else related to the workplace, you may contact us for a no-obligation, no-cost consultation by telephone, video conference, or in person at our nearest office.


Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay