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The federal minimum wage provides an earnings floor for employees—no matter where you live in this country, you can expect at least $7.25 an hour for your work.

But across much of the U.S., that floor is even higher.

More than half of all states have a state-level minimum wage that exceeds the federal minimum, in some cases by quite a bit. And in various pockets around the country, cities have established their own minimum wages that even exceed the higher bar their state has set.

Today, I’ll show you 15 cities with the highest minimum wages in the nation. Indeed, even at the bottom of this list, these cities’ minimums are more than double the current federal standard.


What Is the Federal Minimum Wage?

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The federal minimum wage for covered nonexempt workers is $7.25 per hour. But with the federal minimum wage mired at that same rate since 2009, some states and cities have enacted their own minimum wage requirements.

In the event there are different local, state, and federal minimum wages that all apply to the same employee, the highest rate is the one that must be paid.

Cities With the Highest Minimum Wages

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Using data from the Economic Policy Institute, I’ve compiled a list of the U.S. cities with the highest minimum wages.

The cities with the highest minimum wages don’t just beat out the federal minimum wage incrementally—every city on this list requires employers to pay more than double the federal minimum.

Understandably, many of the cities boasting the nation’s highest minimum wage requirements also happen to have high costs of living. Regardless, even the lowest-paid workers in each of these cities make more than double the federal minimum wage.

#13 (tie): Cupertino + Los Altos + Santa Clara, California

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Cupertino, located in California’s Silicon Valley, is known for being the home of Apple’s headquarters. Nearby Los Altos, on the western edge of Silicon Valley, houses many of the area’s workers; though it has more than 30,000 residents, people still describe the city as having a small village atmosphere. Santa Clara, in the center of Silicon Valley, is home to the headquarters of some of the world’s largest chipmakers, including Nvidia, Intel, and Advanced Micro Devices. (And a fun fact: Santa Clara University is the oldest university in the state.)

Cupertino, Los Altos, and Santa Clara are all less than a half an hour’s drive from one another, so it isn’t surprising that they all have the same minimum wage: $17.75 per hour. That’s a big step above the California state minimum wage of $16.00 per hour.

Cupertino and Los Altos enacted their own minimum wages in 2016, and Santa Clara established its minimum wage in 2017. All three increased their minimum wages to the current rate at the beginning of 2024.

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#12: Palo Alto, California

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Palo Alto is known as the “Birthplace of Silicon Valley.” It’s home to numerous technology companies, including HP, VMware, and Google’s Nest Labs—but, despite the name, not Palo Alto Networks, which is HQ’d in Santa Clara.

This center of innovation established a local minimum wage in 2016. Its most recent increase went into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, and brought the minimum wage to $17.80 per hour.

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#11: El Cerrito, California

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Cerrito Theater on San Pablo Avenue, LPS.1 / Wikimedia, Creative Commons 1.0

El Cerrito, which translates to “the little hill” in Spanish, has a total area of just 3.7 square miles. From this hilly area, residents and visitors can see parts of San Francisco, including the Golden Gate Bridge. Its southern reaches are less than 500 feet from the outskirts of Berkeley and just a few miles from the University of California, Berkeley campus.

This town enacted its own minimum wage in 2015. Thanks to the most recent bump, made at the beginning of 2024, minimum wage workers in El Cerrito now make $17.92 per hour.

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#9 (tie): Berkeley + San Francisco, California

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Berkeley is perhaps best known for the acclaimed University of California, Berkeley, as well as the university-operated Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The city also has the Graduate Theological Union, which is one of the largest religious study institutions around the globe.

Most people are familiar with at least a couple of San Francisco’s most noteworthy claims: the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, the “Painted Ladies” Victorian houses, great sourdough bread. And if you’re a fellow Millennial and would like to reminisce with me, it’s also where the characters of the show Full House lived.

As Berkeley and San Francisco are both high-cost-of-living cities, it’s no surprise that they also have higher minimum wages than most of the country. Both cities made local minimum wage increases on July 1, 2023, which brought their minimum rates up to $18.07 per hour.


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#8: Denver, Colorado

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You’re probably wondering by now whether every city on this list is located in California. Not so! Colorado’s capital city has a high minimum wage that matches its altitude! Denver is known for being nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, hence its nickname, “The Mile-High City.” It’s best known for Coors Field, the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and the Denver Art Museum, among other attractions.

Denver enacted its own minimum wage in 2019, and its most recent increase—effective as of the start of 2024—ensures that even its lowest-paid hourly workers enjoy a rate of $18.29 per hour. That’s not just a higher minimum wage than the federal standard—it’s considerably better than even Colorado, which provides one of the 10 highest state minimum wages.

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#7: Sunnyvale, California

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Sunnyvale is another city in the Bay Area chock full of tech names, including LinkedIn, Armorblox, Fortinet, and med-tech name Intuitive Surgical, which makes robotic surgical systems. (It’s also where Atari was founded.) And many of the city’s residents who don’t work for Sunnyvale companies tend to commute to work for Apple, Google, Lockheed Martin Space, Amazon, and more.

Sunnyvale, like many other California cities, makes minimum-wage adjustments every year. Its latest update, effective as of Jan. 1, 2024, was a bump from $17.95 per hour to $18.55 per hour.

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#6: Emeryville, California

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Max Cortez / Unsplash

Emeryville is a town on the San Francisco Bay. It’s home to Pixar Animation Studios—fun fact: nearly all Pixar films feature Emeryville in some small way—Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Clif Bar, and LeapFrog.

The town enacted its own minimum wage in 2015. Emeryville’s most recent increase became effective on July 1, 2023, bringing the minimum wage to $18.67 per hour.

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#5: Mountain View, California

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Mountain View is another Silicon Valley city—headquarters to not just a slew of technology giants including Google and Intuit, but also the home of Microsoft’s Silicon Valley HQ. Among points of interest in the city are Shoreline Park, the Computer History Museum, and the Shoreline Amphitheater.

The city established its minimum wage law in 2015. Its most recent increase, effective Jan. 1, 2024, raises the current minimum wage to $18.75 per hour.

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#4: West Hollywood, California

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Trendy, progressive West Hollywood is a city within Los Angeles County. It’s home to the Sunset Strip, which is well-known for its restaurants, shops, and vibrant nightlife. And visitors going celebrity-watching can sometimes find the stars at some of West Hollywood’s more upscale locales.

While hourly paid workers almost certainly don’t make as much as those celebrities, they do earn some of the higher minimum wages around. The most recent minimum wage increase in West Hollywood went into effect on July 1, 2023, raising the bar to $19.08 per hour.

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#3: SeaTac, Washington

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While this list is just loaded with California names, the top cities for high minimum wages all belong to Washington—which offers up the highest minimum wage for any state, at $16.28 per hour.

I’ll start with SeaTac, which is a portmanteau of Seattle and Tacoma. This area includes the communities of Angle Lake, Bow Lake, McMicken Heights, and Riverton Heights. SeaTac is home to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and is the headquarters for Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air. Roughly 80 of the city’s businesses are Fortune 1000 companies.

SeaTac’s minimum wage, which was bumped from $19.06 per hour to $19.71 per hour on Jan. 1, 2024, increases every year based on inflation. But there’s a big caveat: It doesn’t apply to all workers making minimum wage—it only applies to hospitality and transportation workers.

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#2: Seattle, Washington

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Many of the cities with the highest minimum wages are home to giant tech firms, and Seattle is no exception, hosting Amazon’s headquarters. But it’s also home to Starbucks, it’s where Boeing got its start, and it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away from other massive HQs, including Microsoft’s and Costco’s home bases. On top of that, Seattle is known for the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Frasier, and being the birthplace of grunge.

This seaport city enacted its own minimum wage back in 2014, and it most recently increased that wage on Jan. 1, 2024, to $19.97 per hour. But again, there’s an asterisk: Smaller employers (with 500 or fewer employees) only have to pay $17.25 per hour if covered employees receive tips, or if employer contributions toward their medical benefits are equivalent to at least $2.72 per hour.

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#1: Tukwila, Washington

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Tukwila, located south of Seattle, boasts a diversity of cultures—the city claims more than 80 languages are spoken in the area, and unsurprisingly, residents also get to enjoy a wide range of cuisines. Top employers include Sound Health, Boeing Employees Credit Union, Boeing Company, and Prime Now LLC.

Tukwila also is home to the highest city-level minimum wage in the country. The city enacted its own minimum wage in 2022. The most recent increase, which became effective at the beginning of the year, puts the current minimum rate at $20.29 per hour.

But like with Washington’s other city-level minimum wages, Tukwila’s minimum isn’t applicable across the board—it only applies for large employers (those with 500 or more employees). Employers with between 15 and 499 employees have a separate minimum wage of $18.29 per hour. And employers with fewer than 15 employees that also earn less than $2 million in annual revenue default to the state minimum wage.


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If you’re looking to build a diversified, low-cost portfolio of funds, Fidelity’s got a great lineup of ETFs that you need to see.

In addition to the greatest hits offered by most fund providers (e.g., S&P 500 index fund, total market index funds, and the like), they also offer specific funds that cover very niche investment ideas you might want to explore.


Related: 9 Best Monthly Dividend Stocks for Frequent, Regular Income

monthly dividend stocks frequent regular income checks

The vast majority of American dividend stocks pay regular, reliable payouts—and they do so at a more frequent clip (quarterly) than dividend stocks in most other countries (typically every six months or year).

Still, if you’ve ever thought to yourself, “it’d sure be nice to collect these dividends more often,” you don’t have to look far. While they’re not terribly common, American exchanges boast dozens of monthly dividend stocks.


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About the Author

Riley Adams is the Founder and CEO of WealthUp (previously Young and the Invested). He is a licensed CPA who worked at Google as a Senior Financial Analyst overseeing advertising incentive programs for the company’s largest advertising partners and agencies. Previously, he worked as a utility regulatory strategy analyst at Entergy Corporation for six years in New Orleans.

His work has appeared in major publications like Kiplinger, MarketWatch, MSN, TurboTax, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, The Globe and Mail, and CNBC’s Acorns. Riley currently holds areas of expertise in investing, taxes, real estate, cryptocurrencies and personal finance where he has been cited as an authoritative source in outlets like CNBC, Time, NBC News, APM’s Marketplace, HuffPost, Business Insider, Slate, NerdWallet, Investopedia, The Balance and Fast Company.

Riley holds a Masters of Science in Applied Economics and Demography from Pennsylvania State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Finance from Centenary College of Louisiana.