Deep-red Nebraska joins liberal states in adopting $15 minimum wage

At least nine other states have done the same.

November 9, 2022, 12:18 PM

Nebraska is projected to approve a $15 minimum wage for workers amid a nationwide push for wage hikes that has predominantly taken hold in liberal states like New York, California and Illinois.

The referendum, called Initiative Measure 433, garnered support from 59% of voters in Nebraska, while ballots opposing the measure stood at 41%, according to results reported by ABC News on Wednesday.

The measure will incrementally raise the state's minimum wage from its current level of $9 per hour to $15 per hour by 2026. Over ensuing years, the minimum wage will move in accordance with inflation.

Nebraska joins at least nine states that have raised their wage floor to $15 per hour, representing a combined 40% of the U.S. workforce, data from the left-leaning National Employment Law Project showed. The majority of those states are liberal.

Battleground or conservative-leaning states have used ballot measures to impose more modest wage hikes in previous years. Voters in Arkansas, Missouri and Arizona brought the wage in their states as high as $12 per hour, according to the nonprofit research firm Ballotpedia.

The nationwide push for minimum wage hikes intensified in 2012, when fast food workers launched a campaign called Fight for $15, aiming to raise wages and unionize the fast food sector. The Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, one of the nation's largest labor organizations, spent tens of millions of dollars in support of the effort.

Protesters hold signs at a rally in support of minimum wage increase in New York, April 15, 2015.
Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The last federal minimum wage hike took place in 2009, when Congress raised the pay floor to its current level of $7.25. As of August, 30 states have raised their minimum wage above the federal level, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The ballot measure in Nebraska was not the only wage-related referendum put in front of voters on Tuesday. In Washington, D.C., voters are projected to approve a measure that will gradually raise the minimum wage for tipped workers from its current level of $5.05 until it matches the wage floor for non-tipped workers by 2027, according to The New York Times.

In July, the minimum wage in Washington, D.C., for non-tipped workers increased from $15.20 per hour to $16.10 per hour.

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