The state of Michigan is one of a number of states that saw their minimum wage rise with the start of the new year. As of Monday it became unlawful in this state to employ a worker for less than $9.25 an hour.

Michigan is one of 18 states that upped their mandated pay rate on Jan. 1, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Monday’s increase was the third since September 2014, when the minimum allowable pay rate was hiked to $8.15 an hour. It was upped again to $8.50 an hour in January 2016, then to $8.90 in January 2017, according to a state website.

The previous and current increases were prescribed by 2014 legislation enacted by bipartisan vote in a Republican-controlled Legislature. The measure was introduced in response to a union-organized ballot initiative that – if supporters had collected a sufficient number of signatures and voters approved — would have increased Michigan’s mandatory minimum wage to $12 by 2022.

The state of Washington currently has the highest minimum wage in the country at $11.50 an hour.

Georgia and Wyoming are tied for having the lowest mandated minimum at $5.15 an hour, which applies only to workers not covered by a federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Five states – Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee – do not impose minimum wage mandates on employers.

Mackinac Center fiscal analyst Michael LaFaive sees the increases as bad news for lower-skilled individuals who are just entering the workforce.

"Young or inexperienced job-seekers who lack the skills needed to make it worth paying them that much are out of luck," he said. “What these laws really do is cut away the bottom rungs from the ladder that leads to a lifetime of gainful employment.”

Tom Gantert writes for Michigan Capitol Confidential, from where this article is adapted.

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