The minimum wage in the United States in the state of Louisiana in 2023
Minimum wage is a frequently debated topic in the United States and one of the most contentious points of debate in all of Louisiana. To some, increasing minimum wage is seen as a way to increase financial stability and help those struggling to make ends meet. Others argue that raising the minimum wage disproportionately hurts small businesses and decreases job availability.
Historically, the federal minimum wage has fluctuated since its adoption in 1938. The Fair Labor Standards Act set the first federal minimum wage at 25 cents an hour, and this wage has since been raised by Congress several times and by executive order in some instances. As of 2020, the federal minimum wage sits at $7.25 an hour; this wage rate has not changed since 2009 when the federal wage was increased from $6.55 an hour to $7.25.
Though the federal wage remains constant, some states, including Louisiana, have enacted their own minimum wage laws. Louisiana’s state minimum wage is currently tied to the federal wage and therefore the state wage is also $7.25 an hour. However, advocates for increasing the pay rate of Louisianans point to a state law which originally mandated a $2.13 an hour minimum wage for certain types of jobs, such as those in the retail, hospitality and service industries, as opposed to all other jobs which must be paid the federal minimum wage rate.
Due to the high cost of living throughout the state, some Louisiana lawmakers have advocated for increased minimum wages. New Orleans, which is believed to have the highest cost of living in Louisiana, has seen a minimum wage increase in the city since 2019, though an uptick in wages for citizens throughout the state remains elusive. One argument for the raise is that studies have shown a minimum wage increase in Louisiana would lift tens of thousands of people out of poverty and give a much needed boost to the local economy.
Businesses, especially small or family-owned ones, are often vocal opponents of any efforts to raise the minimum wage in Louisiana. These business owners point to the fact that a sudden jump in wages could adversely affect their bottom line and risk the closure of their business if they are unable to absorb the associated costs.
The debate around the minimum wage in Louisiana has been a contentious one. Though citizens, business owners and lawmakers across the bayou state all seek the best outcomes, they’re at odds over how to achieve those goals. Louisiana is yet to enact any laws which would increase the minimum wage in the state, as discussions remain ongoing between citizens and elected officials. However, if any definitive decisions are in the future, the pros and cons of any changes will be weighed carefully against each other.