It’s time again for a look at scheduled state- and local-level wage increases that will take effect on January 1, 2024, along with some rate changes that occurred in late 2023 before publication. Employers can use this information to determine the minimum amount they must pay non-exempt, tipped, and certain exempt employees. Before we chart out these rates, we briefly highlight some notable rate-related developments that occurred in the second half of 2023 and discuss how inflation still impacts minimum pay standards. Pending or future legislation might change rates that will apply in 2024, so we recommend employers monitor legislative developments and consult with counsel to confirm rates did not change since publication.

Notable Post-July 1, 2023 Developments

On August 30, 2023, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise the “white collar” overtime exemption regulations applicable to executive, administrative, and professional employees. The DOL proposes to substantially increase the minimum salary level needed to qualify as exempt. While the exact salary level that would be included in a final rule is not yet known, it is expected that the salary level will be at least $1,059 per week ($55,068 annualized).

From September 14, 2023, through early September 17, 2023, a state of emergency declaration by Maine’s governor due to Hurricane Lee activated a provision in the City of Portland’s minimum wage ordinance that required employers to pay covered employees – except certain teleworkers – a $21.00 per hour minimum wage (one-and-a-half times the normal $14.00 per hour rate) for work performed during the emergency.

When New Jersey announced its adjusted minimum wage rates for 2024, it caught some by surprise. Given inflation decreased significantly compared to previous years, some thought the rates would be $15.00 for most employers, $13.50 for small and seasonal employers, and $12.50 for certain farmworkers. These figures appear to mathematically align with the increase language the statute uses. Moreover, these were the figures that were included for years in the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s (DLWD) corresponding rules. For example, when DLWD published a Notice of Administrative Changes in late 2022 to adjust the rules’ rates for 2023 because the prior year’s minimum wage adjusted for inflation exceeded the number in the rule – the law is written so that the rate will be the higher of a CPI-adjusted rate or a designated rate in the statute – the Department did not revise other parts of the rules concerning adjustments to rates in future years. For its Notice concerning the 2024 rate, however, the Department changes both the 2024 rates and the rates (or in some instances rate formula) in future years.

On October 6, 2023, Chicago, Illinois amended its minimum wage ordinance to gradually phase out the tip credit for tipped employees. More specifically, through June 30, 2024, the tip credit will remain 40% of the minimum wage. However, on July 1, 2024, it will decrease to 32% of the minimum wage, and decrease further on July 1 of future years – 24% (2025); 16% (2026); and 8% (2027) – until employers can no longer apply a tip credit on or after July 1, 2028, meaning tipped employees must receive at least the full minimum wage.

On November 2, 2023, Boulder County, Colorado became the third locality in the state to enact a minimum wage ordinance (Denver and Edgewater also have ordinances). The first rate, $15.69 per hour, will apply on January 1, 2024. Additionally, the rate will be as follows on January 1 in future years: $16.57 (2025); $17.99 (2026); $19.53 (2027); $21.21 (2028); $23.03 (2029); and $25.00 (2030). Beginning in 2031, the rate will increase annually on January 1 due to CPI-based adjustments. For covered tipped employees, employers can apply a $3.02 per hour tip credit.

Ballot Measures

At the October 3, 2023 special election, by almost a two-to-one margin, voters in Anaheim, California said “no” to a ballot measure that would have created an ordinance creating a minimum wage for hotel and event center employees, in addition to creating work retention and workplace safety standards.

At the November 7, 2023 election, voters in Bellingham, Washington appear to have more narrowly approved Initiative 2023-01, which creates a local minimum wage ordinance. The local minimum wage will be $1 per hour more than the state minimum wage (so $17.28) from May 1 through December 31, 2024, and TBD from January 1 through April 30, 2025. On May 1, 2025, it will increase to $2 per more than the state rate. Similarly, the local rate will be $2 per hour more than the state rate on January 1, 2026 and January 1 of each subsequent year.

Consumer Price Index Continues to Affect Wage Rates

Yes, we’re still talking about how inflation affects wage rates. For 2024 various local laws’ “CPI catch-up” provisions were activated. For example, in San Mateo, California, the “excess” 2.2% from the 2023 adjustment carried over into the 2024 adjustment to increase the percentage increase from 3.4% – the otherwise applicable CPI increase for the relevant period – to 3.5%, the CPI “cap.” The CPI “catch up” coupled with the requirement to round the adjusted figure to the nearest nickel meant the 2024 minimum wage will become $17.35 rather than $17.30. Similarly, in Redwood City, California, the “excess” .7% from last year’s adjustment (where there is a 5% CPI “cap”) bumped up the CPI increase for the 2024 adjustment from 3.4 to 4.1%. Coupled with rounding to the nearest nickel, it made the 2024 rate at least 10 cents per hour greater it would have been had it been adjusted based on this year’s CPI alone. In Belmont, California, the city amended its ordinance so that for the 2024 (and future years’) adjustment the ordinance will include a “CPI catch-up” provision – which was immediately activated, increasing the CPI adjustment from 3.4 to 3.5% (the cap) – plus rounding the adjusted figure to the nearest nickel.

Minimum Wage, Minimum Cash Wage & Tip Credit Changes

Post-July 1, 2023, Pre-January 1, 2024 Changes

As noted in our mid-year rates article, on September 30, 2023, Florida’s minimum wage increased from $11.00 to $12.00 per hour, the tip credit remained $3.02, resulting in the minimum cash wage for tipped employees increasing from $7.98 to $8.98 per hour.

Changes on January 1, 2024

In the below chart we include the (mostly) generally applicable minimum wage (MW) that will change on January 1, 2024.1 We list the rate that applied before the change (Pre) alongside the new rate (Post). In certain jurisdictions – excluding, e.g., Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Washington – employers may be able to count tips an employee receives toward the minimum wage. In those jurisdictions that permit a tip credit (TC), if the direct wage an employer pays (minimum cash wage or MCW) and tips an employee earns equals the minimum wage, an employer satisfies its minimum wage obligation, but, if the direct wage plus tips does not equal the minimum wage, an employer must pay the employee the difference.

Exempt Employee Pay Changes

Executive, Administrative and/or Professional Employees: The following states have pay requirements that are: 1) changing on January 1, 2024; and 2) will exceed the minimum amount employers must currently pay exempt executive, administrative, and professional employees under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), i.e., $684 per week or $35,568 annually (see above concerning proposed rate changes).

In Alaska, where employees must be paid on a salary or fee basis at a rate of not less than twice the state minimum wage for the first 40 hours of employment each week, excluding employer-furnished board or lodging, the weekly minimum salary will increase from $868 to $938.40.

In California, where employees must earn a monthly salary equivalent to no less than twice the state minimum wage for fulltime employment (employment in which an employee is employed for 40 hours per week), the weekly minimum salary will increase from $1,240 to $1,280.

In Colorado, where employees must be paid at least the salary amount established in regulations and the salary must be sufficient to pay the minimum wage for all hours in a workweek, the weekly minimum salary in the regulations will increase from $961.54 to $1,057.69. Additionally, for purposes of the state’s highly compensated employee exemption, such employees must receive at least this weekly salary amount plus their annual salary must equal at least 2.25 times the rounded annual salary for exempt employees, which will increase from $112,500 to $123,750.

In Maine, where regular compensation, when converted to an annual rate, must exceed 3,000 times the state minimum wage or FLSA’s annual salary rate, whichever is higher, the annualized rate to exceed will increase from a salary that must exceed $41,000 (or $41,401 per the state labor department) to one that must exceed $42,450 (or $42,450.20 per the state labor department).

In New York, where an exempt executive or administrative employee must be paid a salary, including board, lodging, or other allowances and facilities, the weekly minimum salary will increase from $1,125 to $1,200 in New York City and Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, and from $1,064.25 to $1,124.20 in the remainder of the state. Technically, these rates are “proposed”; however, more likely than not the “final” rates should not change.

In Washington State, where employees must be paid on a salary or fee (if administrative or professional only) basis at a rate of not less than a specific multiplier of the state minimum wage for a 40-hour workweek, excluding board, lodging, or other facilities, the weekly minimum salary will increase from $1,101.80 to $1,302.40 (employers with 50 or fewer employees – 1.75 multiplier in 2023 and 2.00 multiplier in 2024) and from $1,259.20 to $1,302.40 (employers with 51 or more employees – 2.00 multiplier in 2023 and 2024).

White Collar Employees Covered by Minimum Wage: In various states, employees covered by the executive, administrative, professional, or outside sales exemptions are exempt from state overtime requirements, but not exempt from state minimum wage requirements. In these jurisdictions, such employees must earn at least the applicable minimum wage for each hour worked in a workweek. Of these states, the following will increase their minimum wage on January 1, 2024: Arizona (All 4 exemptions), Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, Rhode Island (possibly), and South Dakota. Additionally, in Arizona and Colorado, there will be increases to local minimum wage rates.

Computer Employees: In California, to be exempt from state overtime requirements, the minimum hourly, monthly, or annual pay amount for certain computer software employees will increase from $53.80 to $55.58 per hour, $9,338.78 to $9,646.96 per month, and $112,065.20 to $115,763.35 per year. In Colorado, employees in highly technical computer-related occupations must receive at least the lesser of the applicable salary noted above or hourly pay that will increase from at least $31.41 to at least $33.17 per hour. In Washington State, the rate for exempt computer employees paid on an hourly basis will increase from $55.09 to $56.98 per hour.

Instructors at Non-Profit Private Higher Education Institutions: In California, the law also provides that employees providing instruction for a course or laboratory at non-profit higher education institutions are exempt if, in addition to performing certain duties, they are paid a monthly salary equivalent to no less than twice the state minimum wage for a 40-hour workweek or, when employed per course or per laboratory, they receive a minimum payment per “classroom hour,” which will increase from $139.50 to $144 per hour.

Medical Employees: In California, to be exempt from state overtime requirements the minimum hourly rate that licensed physicians and surgeons must receive will increase from $97.99 to $101.22 per hour.

Commissioned Employees: To qualify under the FLSA’s 7(i) overtime exception, the regular rate of pay for an employee of a retail or service establishment must exceed one-and-a-half times the federal minimum wage, and more than half the employee’s compensation for a representative period (not less than one month) must represent commissions on goods or services. In the following states with upcoming January 1, 2024 rate changes, the 7(i)-type exemption requires – in part – an employee’s pay to either equal or exceed one-and-a-half times the state minimum wage: California ($16.00); Colorado ($14.42); Minnesota ($10.85 or $8.85, depending on the employer’s gross sales); New York (Possibly) ($16 or $15, depending on location); Washington ($16.28). Additionally, Connecticut requires pay to equal or exceed two times the state minimum wage ($15.69).