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Ten states raise minimum wage, rates up 10 to 35 cents/hour

By Tim Gaynor

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Ten states kicked off the new year with a minimum wage rise of between 10 and 35 cents, modestly boosting the incomes of nearly 1 million low-paid workers.

The rises went into effect on Tuesday in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The increase will put an extra $190 to $510 per year into the pocket of the average minimum-wage worker, according to a study by the non-partisan National Employment Law Project, released last month.

Rhode Island's minimum wage hike followed a law signed by the state's independent governor, Lincoln Chafee, in June. The other states hiked their minimum wages in accordance with state laws requiring annual adjustments to keep pace with inflation, the study said.

"For a low-wage worker, these increases are a vital protection against rising costs. In states without indexing, inflation slowly erodes the value of minimum wage workers' pay," said David Cooper, an analyst with the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute.

The increases ranged from 10 cents an hour in Missouri - where the minimum wage is $7.35 an hour as of January 1 - to 35 cents in Rhode Island, where the new minimum wage increased to $7.75.

The increase will boost pay for 995,000 low-paid workers. Around 855,000 workers are directly affected as the new rates exceed their previous hourly pay. Another 140,000 workers are set to receive an indirect raise as pay scales are adjusted upward to reflect the new minimum, according to the Institute.

As of January 1, 19 states plus the District of Columbia have minimum wage rates above the federal level of $7.25 per hour, which translates to just over $15,000 per year for a full-time minimum wage earner, the report said.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and David Gregorio)

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