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Frustrated with Washington, Some States Raise Minimum Wage on Their Own

While President Obama and Congress keep talking about the plight and economic cost of Americans' declining incomes, a growing number of states and municipalities frustrated by federal inaction are moving to do something about it. Legislators and voters in five states — California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island — and in four local governments this year approved measures raising the minimum wage above the current national rate of $7.25 an hour, in one case as high as $15 an hour.

At least five more states, including Maryland and South Dakota, and several cities are expected to take up the issue next year. Though states in the past have approved increases in the minimum wage, this year's developments provide a higher floor for wages next year in at least 21 states, a record number.

The burst of activity, which has alarmed business groups, reflects a growing concern over stagnant wages, lost purchasing power and the widening gap between the richest Americans and everyone else — a gap that is now at its widest since the Great Recession.

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