New year, new pay: Why minimum wage (up to $14.13) had even bigger increase than expected

Payouts for unemployment (max is $830), disability, family leave and workers’ comp also increased

The state’s journey to a $15 minimum wage took an extra step this year as the wage was increased by $1.13 an hour, to $14.13 — the highest yearly increase since the schedule to raise the rate was announced in 2019.

The minimum was supposed to go up by $1 each year, but, due to inflation (as based on a significant increase in the Consumer Price Index), the wage went up a little higher.

The only time the minimum wage was raised more was on July 1, 2019 (shortly after the bill signing) — when the wage was increased by $1.15, to $10 an hour.

The inflation provision means the wage could go higher than $15 on Jan. 1, 2024 — if inflation remains high. The state constitution specifies that the minimum wage will continue to increase annually based on any increase in the CPI.

Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said elected officials should be credited for attaching the wage to the CPI.

“The governor and Legislature had the forethought to account for the possibility of rising costs,” he said. “Every extra dollar in the paychecks of our lowest-wage workers is helpful.”

Not everyone received the jump to $14.13 on Jan. 1.

People employed by seasonal and small businesses, which are defined as having five or fewer workers, will go from $11.90 to $12.93. That group won’t reach the $15 rate until 2026.

The minimum wage for farm workers will increase from $11.05 to $12.01, Department of Labor & Workforce Development officials said. The minimum wage for tipped workers will go from $5.13 to $5.26.

Here are other increases:

  • Unemployment Insurance: The maximum weekly benefit amount for new Unemployment Insurance beneficiaries increases to $830, from $804;
  • Temporary disability and family leave: The maximum weekly benefit for new state plan temporary disability and family leave insurance claims increases to $1,025, from $993.
  • Workers’ compensation: The maximum weekly benefit for new workers’ compensation claims rises to $1,099, from $1,065.

To qualify

To qualify for unemployment, temporary disability or family leave benefits in 2023, an applicant must earn at least $260 per week for 20 base weeks, or, alternatively, earn at least $13,000.

The DOL said the maximum benefit rates and the taxable wage base are recalculated each year based on the statewide average weekly wage, in accordance with the laws governing these programs. The benefit rates and taxable wage base for 2023 reflect the $1,465.18 average weekly wage for 2021, which rose by 3.2%, from $1,419.52 in 2020.

In addition, the amount of wages subject to wage taxes in 2023 increased to $41,100 for employers covered under the Temporary Disability Insurance program and for workers and employers covered under the Unemployment Insurance program, the Workforce Development Partnership Program and Supplemental Workforce Fund for Basic Skills.

The taxable wage base for workers covered under the Temporary Disability and Family Leave Insurance programs increased to $156,800 for 2023.