Discuss: The Top 5 U.S. Cities With the Highest Minimum Wage

Susan Kelly

Jul 30, 2022


Additionally, it is the lowest wage a company is permitted to offer a worker for an hour. For more than ten years, the minimum wage in the US has been $7.25 per hour, but there have recently been moves to raise it to $15. The federal minimum wage is insufficient to support an individual and, if necessary, a family, particularly in the more expensive American cities.

The Movement to Increase Minimum Wages

A few states and cities had minimum wages much higher than the federal minimum wage before the decade of the 2010s began. This changed when minimum wage workers banded together to raise awareness of their precarious status, particularly in urban areas. The minimum wage's relationship to inflation and the cost of living has steadily declined since its peak in 1968. The awareness campaigns were incredibly effective, winning the backing of well-known activists who persuaded local government officials in several cities to impose higher minimum wages to enable workers to live independently.

Major Findings

Only three cities have a minimum wage that is higher than $13. Only three places we looked at, Buffalo, New York, Denver, Colorado, have a minimum wage buying power of more than $13 per hour: Minneapolis, Minnesota, Buffalo, New York, and Denver, Colorado. A minimum salary of 13 dollars an hour equates to $26,000 per year if a 40-hour work week and 50 work weeks are assumed.

Cities in Texas lag behind. Texas is home to three cities with the highest minimum wage. Plano, Dallas, and Austin are some of them. Each of the three cities maintains its minimum wage in Texas ($7.25 per hour), and each has a higher projected cost of living than the country average. In terms of purchasing power, this indicates that it is $7.16 or less in all three cities.

Largest Real Minimum Wage Cities

MN Minneapolis

Starting in 2022, Minneapolis, Minnesota's minimum wage was $12.50 for all workers and $14.25 for those who worked for large firms. Based on the $14.25 figure, the Minneapolis minimum wage is $13.93—the highest value we could find in our investigation. Notably, for large businesses, Minneapolis's wage minimum is expected to go even further to $15 by July 2022. This might result in a real minimum wage of $14.66, which would be much higher.

Buffalo, New York

Except for Westchester, Long Island, and New York City, In the state of New York, the legal minimum wage is $13.20. The amount is more than twice as much as the minimum wage set by the federal government ($7.25). The minimum wage in Buffalo, New York, is calculated to be $13.87 using the $13.20 legal minimum wage and an acceptable cost of living. For a 40-hour workweek and 50 workweeks annually, the salary is $27,731.

Denver, Colorado

With a $15.87 minimum wage, Denver, Colorado, is third among the 79 cities we looked at in the list of statutory minimum wages. The minimum wage laws in Seattle, Washington ($17.27) and San Francisco, California ($16.32) are the highest in the US. As a result, although Denver's cost of living is around 14% higher than the US median, the average minimum wage is only $13.84.

St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis, Missouri, which has a minimum wage of $11.15 but an actual minimum pay of $12.71, is ranked fourth in our research due to its lower cost of living than the national average. This amounts to a minimum annual wage of $24,420. (assuming a 40-hour week of work and 50 weeks of work each year).

Tucson, Arizona

The fifth-highest city with the highest real minimum wage is Tucson, Arizona. The standard minimum wage in Arizona has increased from $12.15 per hour as of January 1, 2021, to $12.80 per hour as of January 1, 2022. With this rise, the average minimum wage in Tucson will be $12.50, and the cost of living is only 2.4 percent higher than the average national.

Advice for Selecting a Residence

Determine the true cost of living. According to costs of living adjustments, the minimum pay in the cities we analyzed is significantly higher or lower than the statutory minimum wage. Check out the Cost of Living Calculator to see how far your money will go in other cities. Calculating the difference allows you to enter your current residence and the destination you want to relocate to.

Take advantage of expert counsel. Regardless of where you are, using the services of a financial advisor will help you make wiser financial choices that will give you greater control over your money. Finding a trustworthy financial advisor need not be challenging. With the help of a free service from SmartAsset, you can get in touch with three financial advisors in your area and conduct a free consultation with each of them to find out which one is best for you. Find an advisor who will help you attain those financial goals right now if you're keen to do so.


Since 2009, the federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25, which is too little for families to make it beyond the poverty line. Many states, cities, and municipalities are already paying more than the federal minimum wage in response to employee demands. The US minimum wage has been steadily rising to $15, yet there has been strong opposition to the increase.

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