Despite a strong showing by Republicans, who often oppose minimum wage hikes and sometimes minimum wages at all, voters across the country approved minimum wage increases in a midterm election year.
In Nebraska, the hourly wage will rise to $9 within two years; South Dakota to $8.50 by 2015; Arkansas to $8.50 by 2017; Alaska to $8.75 in 2015 and $9.75 in 2016. A hike in Illinois to $10 by 2015 is non-binding. In San Francisco, the second city to raise the minimum wage this year after Seattle's hike in June, voters overwhelmingly passed a hike to $15 an hour with 77% support.
Experts told CNBC that there could also be a shift in attitude among Congressional Republicans regarding a minimum wage hike, but that it would likely be tied to tax reform.
President Barack Obama has kept pressure on the idea of raising the minimum wage, and the issue has gained traction in an era when many experts see the nation’s income gap as a damper on consumer spending and the economy as a whole. The president has highlighted the living-wage policies of retailers like Costco, and retailers like Gap Inc. have announced new higher-wage policies.
In something of a turnabout, many experts believe that the strong show of localized support for a minimum wage hike bodes well for a national raise, even with the upcoming Republican control of the Senate and the strengthened Republican majority in the House. The federal minimum is $7.25 an hour.