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A state minimum wage of at least $10 per hour is one of the five most effective policies a state can implement to ensure children get off to a healthy start and thrive, and that promote greater equity in child wellbeing.

The federal minimum wage requires that most hourly workers be paid at least $7.25, but states can establish higher wage thresholds.

The most rigorous research studies show that an increase in the minimum wage:


Increases earnings

  • A 10% increase in the minimum wage boosted annual earnings by up to 8.3%

Has no adverse effects on employment

  • A 10% increase in the minimum wage led to a 7% increase in the likelihood that a child under age 5 of a mother with no college education had a working parent

Reduces poverty rates among children

  • A 10% increase in the minimum wage reduced poverty by 9.6% for children under age 6 with parents who do not have a college degree

Improves birth outcomes

  • A 10% increase in the minimum wage reduced infant mortality by 3.2%

Reduces child neglect

  • A $1 increase in the minimum age reduced child neglect reports by 10.8% for children under age 5

Visit the Clearinghouse for the comprehensive evidence review on State Minimum Wage.

The prenatal period to age 3 is the most sensitive and rapid period of growth for the brain and body. State policy choices have a substantial impact on the wellbeing of infants, toddlers, and their parents, and on promoting equity among children. See the Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap for more information on the most effective policies and strategies states can implement to help children thrive from the start.

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