There is more than one minimum wage in the United States.
In 2013, no fewer than 19 states and the District of Columbia have set their statutory minimum wages to be higher than that set by the U.S. federal government. In these states, the higher minimum wage set by the state rules the jobs scene for employees and employers.
For the other 31 states, whose legislatures might have set lower minimum wage levels or who even have no minimum wage level set by state law, except for some pretty limited circumstances, the U.S. federal minimum wage rules.
Our chart below visualizes how today's "higher-than-federal" minimum wage mandating states have changed their minimum wages over time, from 1994 through this point in 2013:
What that all means is that the effective minimum wage across the entire United States is somewhat higher than that set by the U.S. federal government. To find out what that really is, which would be necessary for any serious analysis of the impact of anything other than the timing of a minimum wage increase on the entire U.S. economy, we would need to take into account the minimum wages of states with higher minimum wages by weighting the average minimum wage in the U.S. by state population.
Which is something we might need to set some time aside to do one of these days!
U.S. Department of Labor. Wage and Hour Division. Changes in Basic Minimum Wages in Non-Farm Employment Under State Law: Selected Years 1968 to 2013. [HTML document]. Accessed 6 March 2013.