Wages

Kecia Jolley is getting a pay raise this week. But she's still making minimum wage.

Jolley works as a grocery store cashier in Missouri — one of nearly two dozen states that increased their minimum wages on Jan. 1. Economists say those mandatory wage hikes are an important factor boosting pay for workers at the bottom of the income ladder.

Jolley's Friday paycheck will be the first to reflect Missouri's 2020 minimum of $9.45 an hour, up from $8.60 last year.

"I think that I'll be better off," she says. "But I think that it's going to still be a struggle."

The federal minimum wage is $7.25. And that rate hasn’t changed in 10 years, even though the price of everything from housing to transportation has increased.

But new reporting shows that wages around the country have grown, in part due to state and local measures which increase the minimum wage.

The United States added more than 200,000 jobs last month, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While wages and jobs are growing in the Mountain West, they aren’t outpacing the skyrocketing cost of housing. 

A recent report looking at the best states to work in doesn't show the Mountain West in a particularly good light. Only one state in our region ranked in the top half.

U.S. women would have to work an extra 47 days each year to earn as much as men do, says Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

"Because U.S. women earn 82 percent of what men earn," she told NPR's Steve Inskeep.

There's a lot happening on the pay equity front.

Updated at 10:35 a.m. ET

The U.S. economy added only 20,000 jobs — far fewer than expected — last month, the Labor Department said Friday. But the unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent from January's 4 percent, and earnings growth picked up.

The increase in jobs was below the 180,000 projected by private analysts and the smallest gain since September 2017. February's increase was dramatically smaller than January's revised gain of 311,000 and December's revised 227,000.

Matt Bloom / KUNC

The new year brings with it yet another increase to Colorado's minimum wage. As of Jan. 1, the new wage will be $11.10 for non-tipped workers, $8.08 for tipped.

It's the latest rise triggered by Amendment 70, a constitutional amendment passed in 2016. The measure incrementally increases the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020.