The 10 states where the minimum wage is highest

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By Jean Chatzky

Top 10 states for the minimum wage | Andersen Ross/Getty Images

Washington, DC | Don Mason/Getty Images

No. 1: Washington, DC

Minimum wage: $11.50

The nation's capital is home not only to the highest court in the land -- the Supreme Court -- but also to the highest minimum wage for any U.S. state or territory, now at $11.50 per hour. Of course, our government officials in Washington make far more than the minimum. The president is paid $400,000 annually. Supreme Court justices don't do badly either.

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California | Hero Images/Getty Images

No. 2: California (tie)

Minimum wage: $10

The nation's largest state by population bumped up its minimum to $10 an hour to start 2016. A number of California cities, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, have started phasing in minimum wage increases to $15 per hour and plan to reach that mark before the state does.

Massachusetts | Christopher Seufert Photography/Getty Images

No. 2: Massachusetts (tie)

Minimum wage: $10

Massachusetts has recently been increasing its minimum wage by $1 each year on the way to a minimum of $11 an hour by 2017. However, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor calculates that a full-time worker needs to earn at least $12.60 per hour to live in the Bay State.

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Alaska | Huntstock/Getty Images

No. 4: Alaska

Minimum wage: $9.75

In 2015, Alaska enacted its first minimum wage increase in 5 years. The state's minimum rose by another $1, to $9.75 per hour, for 2016. Most Alaska residents, including minimum-wage workers, also get some extra money from the state: an annual dividend from an oil-wealth fund. The most recent payments were for a record $2,072.

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Connecticut | Adam Glanzman/NASCAR/Getty Images

No. 5: Connecticut (tie)

Minimum wage: $9.60

The lowest-paid workers in Connecticut got about a 5% raise to $9.60 at the start of 2016, under a law that's gradually raising Connecticut's minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. "Increasing the minimum wage is not just good for workers, it's also good for business," Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a statement.

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Rhode Island | Yiming Chen/Getty Images

No. 5: Rhode Island (tie)

Minimum wage: $9.60

Like several of its New England neighbors, Rhode Island kicked off 2016 with a minimum wage increase, from $9 to $9.60 per hour.

The latest raise was sponsored by Democratic state Rep. David Bennett. "Putting more money in the pockets of those with the lowest wages helps them buy the basic goods and services their families need," Bennett says in a statement.

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Vermont | Photodisc/Getty Images

No. 5: Vermont (tie)

Minimum wage: $9.60

2016 was ushered in with the 2nd of 4 annual increases in the Green Mountain State that will extend its minimum wage to $10.50 an hour by 2018. "Raising Vermont's minimum wage will give a boost to many hardworking Vermonters and will help drive increased economic activity and security that will benefit the economy as a whole," says Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, in a news release.

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Washington | Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

No. 8: Washington

Minimum wage: $9.47

Washington state's minimum wage is tied to the consumer price index and is holding steady at just a few cents shy of $9.50 an hour. The state's largest city, Seattle, plans to go well above the state requirement and is in the process of boosting its minimum wage in phases -- toward an eventual $15 an hour.

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Oregon | Westend61/Getty Images

No. 9: Oregon

Minimum wage: $9.25

Washington's southern neighbor recently passed historic legislation on its minimum wage. Gov. Kate Brown signed a new wage law in March that creates a 3-tiered system. By 2022, workers in the Portland area will earn $14.75, workers in midsize counties will earn $13.50 and those in rural areas will earn $12.50.

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Minnesotta, Nebraska, New York | Image Source/Getty Images

No. 10: Minnesota, Nebraska, New York

Minimum wage: $9

Minnesota bumped its minimum wage for large employers last summer to $9 an hour, up from $8. Small employers may pay the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour. Another raise is planned for August 2016.

Nebraska has leaped up the list, thanks to a 2-step minimum wage increase that voters overwhelmingly approved in 2014.

New York started raising its minimum wage at the end of 2013; the latest increase took effect as 2015 drew to a close. The state's $15 minimum is scheduled to arrive at the end of 2018.

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