Among the nine states with automatic adjustments, the average minimum wage is $8.12 an hour, up from a little under $8. States that do not have automatic changes operate with an average minimum wage of about $7.40 — a difference of about $1,500 a year for a full-time worker.
Many states, including Idaho, follow the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, either because they've tied their minimum wage to that threshold or because the state-enacted minimum is lower than that.
San Francisco has set the highest local minimum wage and will have workers paid at least $10.55 an hour in 2013.
Groups such as the National Restaurant Association oppose further increases in federal or state minimum wages, arguing that it's an ineffective way to reduce poverty and forces business owners to cut hours, raise prices or lay off workers.
At Tom's 1st Avenue Bento, a downtown Portland lunch spot, owner Tom Hume said he boosted pay for minimum-wage workers before the end of the year in order to get ahead of the game. He also raised prices on one-third of his menu items by 25 cents.
Natasha Baker, 22, who works at Hume's restaurant in Portland, recently moved back in with her mother but hopes to move to another apartment in January. She said the extra $5 or $6 she's earning every week with the salary boost is OK but won't make a huge difference.
“I don't usually look at what I get paid,” she said. “I'm more directed on what's being taken out, which is more discouraging than anything.”
In Montpelier, Vt., restaurant owner Irene Facciolo said she supported the 14-cents-an-hour increase in the minimum wage for her employees. She said the move from $8.46 to $8.60 an hour wasn't much.
“We don't have a problem with it at all,” Facciolo said.