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Which state has the top minimum wage? A ranking from lowest to highest.

Twenty-nine states (and one important city) have an hourly minimum wage above the $7.25 an hour federal rate. Can you guess where the highest minimum wage in the country is? 

Protesters calling for higher wages for fast-food workers stand outside a McDonald's restaurant in Oakland, California (December 5, 2013).
Noah Berger/Reuters/File
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18. The federal minimum: $7.25

Fourteen states have a minimum wage equivalent to the federal minimum: Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. 

The federal hourly minimum wage was last raised in 2009, to $7.25 per hour. Many states heed the federal minimum, but several have their own set minimums. Employees are entitled to whichever is higher - either the state or federal minimum wage - when they are subject to both. Only two states, Wyoming and Georgia, have minimum wage rates well below the federal minimum.

Why are some state and city wages higher than others? In many cases, it's correlated to a high cost of living. On average, the cost of renting an apartment is among the nation's highest in Washington, DCSan Francisco, and Boston, three places in the country where the minimum wage is also high.

Advocates for raising the minimum wage to $15 or even $20 an hour suggest that raising the minimum wage will bring more workers out of poverty and reduce their need to rely on government-assistance programs. That idea has gained momentum in recent years thanks to  the nationwide “Fight for 15” movement, which represents a wide variety of low-wage workers in fast food, retail, home care, and other industries. Detractors say that uniformly raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour would hurt employers in currently low-cost, low-wage states by forcing them to unfairly absorb the cost of paying workers more.

In the wake of Fight for $15, many cities and states have raised their minimum wages over the past two years. [Here are the 16 states that have the lowest wages above the federal minimum, as well as the 12 states with the highest.] Read on for a listing of the states that have the highest wages above the federal minimum. Can you guess which one comes out on top?


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