In order to help ensure that employers do not take advantage of their employees, a minimum wage requirement was established in the United States. Minimum wage is the lowest amount of money that an employer can legally pay his/her employees every hour. This helps to protect employees from exploitation, especially in a struggling economy when unemployment rates are high.
If the minimum wage laws were not established, many employers would pay employees very low wages, making it difficult for these individuals to survive and handle financial responsibilities. Minimum wage legislation is particularly pertinent to young individuals, elderly individuals who must return to work, and individuals with low socioeconomic statuses. Without minimum wages, these individuals may receive unacceptably low incomes.
Minimum wages are established on a federal and a state level. The federal government has created a national minimum wage. Every individual working within the United States must be paid the specified amount of money for each hour that they work.
Each state is permitted to establish an independent minimum wage. However, the minimum wage that is established by a state must match or exceed the minimum wage that is specified by the federal government. Few states have chosen to establish a minimum wage greater than the minimum wage set by the federal government.
Oregon, Washington, and Connecticut are some of the states that have created higher minimum wages for employees. In these states, minimum wages often rise with inflation, and therefore, as the cost of living increases, so to does the minimum wage in these states.