TIME Greece

Eurozone Meeting on Greece Bailout Ends Amid Discord

Wolfgang Schaeuble
Geert Vanden Wijngaert—AP German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, left, talks with journalists as he arrives for a meeting of Eurogroup finance ministers at the EU Council building in Brussels on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.

Greece rejected what it says was an "irrational and unacceptable" demand

(BRUSSELS) — A meeting of eurozone finance ministers to discuss Greece’s financial bailout has broken down amid signs the discussions ended in discord.

Hopes for a deal at Monday’s meeting took a hit after some finance ministers, including Germany’s Wolfgang Schaeuble, raised concerns over the new Greek government’s negotiating tactics and demands.

The gathering broke up after Greece rejected what it says was an “irrational and unacceptable” demand from its euro partners at the start of discussions in Brussels. A Greek government official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the proposals were a “radical departure” from what was previously discussed. The official did not elaborate.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the head of the so-called eurogroup, will comment in a press briefing shortly.

TIME Economy

What’s Really to Blame for Weak Economic Growth

The George Washington statue stands covered in snow near the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S. Wind-driven snow whipped through New Yorks streets and piled up in Boston as a fast-moving storm brought near-blizzard conditions to parts of the Northeast, closing roads, grounding flights and shutting schools.
Jin Lee—Bloomberg via Getty Images The George Washington statue stands covered in snow near the New York Stock Exchange

Finance is a cause, not a symptom, of weaker economic growth

After years of hardship, America’s middle class has gotten some positive news in the last few months. The country’s economic recovery is gaining steam, consumer spending is starting to tick up (it grew at more than 4 % last quarter), and even wages have started to improve slightly. This has understandably led some economists and analysts to conclude that the shrinking middle phenomenon is over.

At the risk of being a Cassandra, I’d argue that the factors that are pushing the recovery and working in the favor of the middle class right now—lower oil prices, a stronger dollar, and the end of quantitative easing—are cyclical rather than structural. (QE, Ruchir Sharma rightly points out in The Wall Street Journal, actually increased inequality by boosting the share-owning class more than anyone else.) That means the slight positive trends can change—and eventually, they will.

The piece of economic data I’m most interested in right now is actually a new report from Wallace Turbeville, a former Goldman Sachs banker and a senior fellow at think tank Demos, which looks at the effect of financialization on economic growth and the fate of the working and middle class. Financialization, a topic which I’m admitted biased toward since I’m writing a book about it, is the way in which the markets have come to dominate the economy, rather than serving them.

This includes everything from the size of the financial sector (still at record highs, even after the financial crisis and bailouts), to the way in which the financial markets dictate the moves of non-financial businesses (think “activist” investors and the pressure around quarterly results). The rise of finance since the 1980s has coincided with both the shrinking paycheck of most workers and a lower number of business start-ups and growth-creating innovation.

This topic has been buzzing in academic circles for years, but Turberville, who is aces at distilling complex economic data in a way that the general public can understand, goes some way toward illustrating how the economic and political strength of the financial sector, and financially driven capitalism, has created a weaker than normal recovery. (Indeed, it’s the weakest of the post war era.) His work explains how financialization is the chief underlying force that is keeping growth and wages disproportionately low–offsetting much of the effects of monetary policy as well as any of the temporary boosts to the economy like lower oil or a stronger dollar.

I think this research and what it implies—that finance is a cause, not a symptom of weaker economic growth—is going to have a big impact on the 2016 election discussion. For starters, if you believe that the financial sector and non-productive financial activities on the part of regular businesses—like the $2 trillion overseas cash hoarding we’ve heard so much about—is a cause of economic stagnation, rather than a symptom, that has profound implications for policy.

For example, as Turberville points out, banks and policy makers dealt with the financial crisis by tightening standards on average borrowers (people like you and me, who may still find it tough to get mortgages or refinance). While there were certainly some folks who shouldn’t have been getting loans for houses, keeping the spigots tight on average borrowers, which most economists agree was and is a key reason that the middle class suffered disproportionately in the crisis and Great Recession, doesn’t address the larger issue of the financial sector using capital mainly to enrich itself, via trading and other financial maneuvers, rather than lending to the real economy.

Former British policy maker and banking regular Adair Turner famously said once that he believed only about 15 % of the money that followed through the financial sector went back into the real economy to enrich average people. The rest of it merely stayed at the top, making the rich richer, and slowing economic growth. This Demos paper provides some strong evidence that despite the cyclical improvements in the economy, we’ve still got some serious underlying dysfunction in our economy that is creating an hourglass shaped world in which the fruits of the recovery aren’t being shared equally, and that inequality itself stymies growth.

TIME Companies

American Express Shares Plunge As Costco Dumps its Credit Cards

AmEx’s stock decline erased more than $5 billion from its market value Thursday

As of next year, Costco Wholesale shoppers will be safe to leave home without their American Express cards.

AmEx shares dropped to their lowest levels since mid-October on Thursday after the credit card company announced that its exclusivity deal with wholesale club retailer Costco is set to expire at the end of March 2016. The market reacted swiftly and sharply to the prospect of Costco no longer accepting AmEx cards. AmEx is currently the only credit card accepted by the retailer, which is one of the largest U.S. retailers with nearly 470 stores across the country.

The credit card company’s shares dropped to around $80 in early trading and were recently trading down by about 6.7%, at $80.88. The steep decline erased roughly $5.9 billion from the payment card giant’s market value, which is still nearly $88 billion.

Costco previously dropped AmEx as its exclusive credit card issuer in Canada and Bloomberg reported last fall that the retailer was considering making the same move in the U.S. The retailer negotiated a deal to partner with Capital One Financial Corp. and MasterCard in Canada. Shares of Capital One and MasterCard were each up roughly 3% on Thursday.

In a Thursday morning earnings call, AmEx said losing the Costco contract would drag down its earnings and revenue this year and in 2016. The company said it now expects earnings to be flat this year after analysts projected 10% earnings growth, based on polling by Thomson Reuters. AmEx expects earnings growth to return next year.

AmEx and Costco had been engaged in negotiations to extend their agreement in the U.S., but the two sides were unable to reach a deal, AmEx CEO Kenneth Chenault said in a statement. The chief executive added that his company will instead “focus on opportunities in other parts of our business where we see significant potential for growth and attractive returns over the moderate to long term.”

AmEx shares are down 13% on the year and the company announced last month that it plans to cut more than 4,000 jobs this year.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME finance

Report: HSBC Helped Conceal Millions in Foreign Accounts

HSBC helped clients evade tax, leaks show
Facundo Arrizabalaga—EPA Customers use ATM machines outside an HSBC bank in central London, on Feb. 9, 2015.

Some details of such operations were disclosed previously, when HSBC was fined in 2012 by the U.S. for allowing criminals to use its branches for money laundering

(LONDON) — HSBC’s Swiss private bank helped hide millions of dollars for drug traffickers, arms dealers and celebrities as it assisted wealthy people around the world dodge taxes, according to a report based on leaked documents that lifts the veil on the country’s banking secrecy laws.

The report from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and several news organizations comes as governments seek to crack down on tax evasion to bolster treasuries depleted by the financial crisis and staunch criticism that the rich aren’t paying their fair share.

The leaked documents cover the period up to 2007 and relate to accounts worth $100 billion held by more than 100,000 people and legal entities from 200 countries.

Some details of such operations were disclosed previously, when HSBC was fined in 2012 by the U.S. for allowing criminals to use its branches for money laundering. Monday’s report discloses a more detailed cache of data and information.

Academics estimate that $7.6 trillion is held in overseas tax havens, depriving governments of $200 billion a year in tax revenue, according to the ICIJ report.

The French government received the files from a whistleblower in 2010 and passed them onto tax authorities around the world, including the U.S., Britain and Germany.

In Britain, where HSBC is based, the report sparked criticism that tax authorities hadn’t done more to penalize people who have illegally evaded taxes. The tax agency clawed back 135 million pounds ($236 million) from some of the 3,600 Britons identified as using the Geneva branch of HSBC, but only one has been prosecuted.

France, by contrast, launched 103 actions. France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls told Europe 1 radio on Monday that France is “very determined” to fight tax evasion and will continue to take action at home and at the European level.

In Britain, lawmakers reacted with outrage.

“You are left wondering, as you see the enormity of what has been going on, what it actually takes to bring a tax cheat to court,” Margaret Hodge, chair of Parliaments Public Accounts Committee, told the BBC.

Hodge also said the former chairman of HSBC, Stephen Green, who became the government’s trade minister after he left the bank in 2010, must face serious questions about whether he was “asleep at the wheel, or he did know and he was therefore involved in dodgy tax practices.”

HSBC stressed that the documents were from eight years ago and said that it has since implemented numerous initiatives designed to prevent its banking services from being used to evade taxes or launder money.

Franco Morra, CEO of HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary, said that the new management had overhauled the business, and shut down accounts from clients who “did not meet our high standards.”

“These disclosures about historical business practices are a reminder that the old business model of Swiss private banking is no longer acceptable,” he said in a statement.

The HSBC files were analyzed by the French daily Le Monde, The Guardian in Britain, the BBC and the Washington-based consortium.

__

Associated Press Writers Frank Jordans in Berlin and Greg Keller in Paris contributed to this story.

TIME Starbucks

Howard Schultz Has a Radical Plan for Starbucks—And America

Photograph by Ian Allen for TIME

The outspoken Starbucks CEO tells TIME about his plans to transform his business

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has big plans for the future of his coffee empire. In a new cover story, the 61-year-old executive gives TIME’s Rana Foroohar a preview of the company’s transformation, much of it designed to cope with a rapidly changing American middle class. In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview Schultz describes the firm’s strategy to move up market, delving into the personal history that has shaped his beliefs on issues ranging from the working poor to race relations.

Just as fashion brands have haute ­couture and mass-market lines, Starbucks this year will start opening a series of luxury Reserve stores, where customers can get a more rarefied and expensive assortment of coffee. (Some may experiment with selling wine.) Expect many more specialized formats designed for specific places, like express stores coming to New York City or mobile trucks currently on college campuses. Over the next five years, Schultz will be busy retooling the Starbucks experience, in large part by experimenting with ways to draw in ever-more-fickle ­consumers.

To read the full story, please subscribe to TIME. More from the story:

On whether he will run for President in 2016, Schultz insists to TIME that he’s not interested in running for office at the moment, saying, “I don’t think that is a solution. I don’t think it ends well.” For now, Schultz says he’s content to, “see what Hillary does.”

On Starbucks’ coffee-­sales figures from nearly 12,000 stores nationwide, Schultz says: “We have a lens on almost every community in America…. At 4:30 in the morning, I wake up and see the numbers of basically every store from yesterday.” Over the past few years, says Schultz, they’ve pointed to a “fractured level of trust and confidence” that he attributes in large part to a sense that government is no longer functional and that no one is looking out for the welfare of the middle and working classes.

On how businesses should operate in America: “I think the private sector simply has to take a larger role than they have in the past. Our responsibility goes beyond the P&L and our stock price…. If half the country or at least a third of the country doesn’t have the same opportunities as the rest going forward, then the country won’t survive. That’s not socialism.”

On growing up while struggling with poverty in the housing projects of Canarsie, Brooklyn: “When you say you went to Canarsie High School, you get a whole new level of street cred!”

Grover Norquist talks to TIME about how Starbucks can act as a model for a kind of business federalism in which the private sector does things better and faster than government, saying: “Howard isn’t saying, Hey, I’ll give you a check. He’s saying, I want your skills, [at the same time] that he’s changing the cost of education by revolutionizing education itself. He’s backing into the reform of public education.”

His friend David Geffen says: “I first told Howard he should run back in 2008. We were having a very intense conversation about things that were happening in the country, and Howard had a strong point of view about various things…. We both felt there was a lot of corruption in government and a lack of conviction to put things right.

Read next: Starbucks For America

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME finance

The S&P Settlement Is Odious—And Business as Usual

S&P Index Reports Record Drop In U.S. Home Prices
David McNew—Getty Images GLENDALE, CA - NOVEMBER 27: A reduced price sign sits in front of a house November 27, 2007 in Glendale, California. U.S. home prices plummeted 4.5 percent in the third quarter from the year before. It is the biggest drop since the start of Standard & Poor’s nationwide housing index 20 years ago, the research group announced. Prices also fell 1.7 percent from the previous three-month period in the largest quarter-to-quarter decline in the index’s history. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

The settlement is huge news and proof that the shady arrangement between Wall Street and Washington is back to business as usual

The bill finally came due for Standard & Poor’s Financial Services: $1.37 billion. That’s what the company will pay to the federal, state and D.C. governments to resolve the culpability of its ratings agency in draining trillions of dollars from our bank accounts, 401ks and home equity not to mention contributing mightily to the global financial crisis.

As Attorney General Eric Holder put it: “As S&P admits under this settlement, company executives complained that the company declined to downgrade underperforming assets because it was worried that doing so would hurt the company’s business. While this strategy may have helped S&P avoid disappointing its clients, it did major harm to the larger economy, contributing to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.”

But S&P got off cheap and the fact that none of the people in charge of the company at the time are going to jail tells you it’s business as usual between Washington and Wall Street. It’s just a speeding ticket, people. Move along. The company was quick to point out that it wasn’t guilty of what it admitted to: “The settlement contains no findings of violations of law by the Company, S&P Financial Services or S&P Ratings,” the company’s press release asserts.

Nope, just a level of odiousness that still resonates eight years later.

S&P, part of McGraw Hill Financial, Inc. rates bonds for a living—it still does—and it was living well up to the financial crisis by rubber stamping its top, AAA rating to tranche after tranche of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and collateralized debt obligations (CDOS) from 2004 to 2007. The way this works is that the bond issuers pay the ratings agencies to rate them. No conflict there, right? Triple-A is the rating reserved for the best of the best. But RMBs and CDOs that S&P was rating were partially underwritten by the vast number of no-doc, “liar loan” and other mortgages being handed out by equally sleazy outfits such as Countrywide Financial.

It all collapsed like the Ponzi scheme it was when these unfit buyers started to default on their mortgages and the value of the bonds crashed. It would lead to cascading calamities including the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the bailout of AIG, Freddie and Fannie Mac (quasi-government mortgage agencies) not to mention widespread contagion in the auto industry. S&P will also pay $125 million to calPERS, the California pension fund that, like many other pension funds, bought some of these AAA bonds under the guise that they were safe.

Nice work, that. For years, S&P was able to fend off lawsuits by claiming that its ratings were merely statements of opinion protected by the First Amendment, which particularly ticked me off. Don’t use our free-press/free-speech amendment to shelter your atrocious behavior. But that defense finally collapsed after the government took another tack: alleging that S&P committed fraud. “As S&P knew,” read the Justice Department’s lawsuit, “these representations were materially false, and concealed material facts, in that S&P’s desire for increased revenue and market share in the RMBS and CDO ratings markets led S&P to downplay and disregard the true extent of the credit risks posed by RMBS and CDO tranches in order to favor the interests of large investment banks and others involved in the issuance of RMBS and CDOs.”

S&P continued to resist, despite the DOJ uncovering emails that showed S&P employees knew they had clearly underestimated the risk of the RMBs and CDOs. Here’s my personal favorite: “Let’s hope we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of cards falters.” (Some, in fact, did and are.) S&P’s other defense is essentially that the bankers all knew we were full of it.

In the agreement that S&P signed with prosecutors it admits to the fact that the company was selling garbage. The DOJ also made S&P eat the company’s assertion that the lawsuit was retaliation for S&P’s downgrading the debt of the United States in 2011. S&P was wrong about the quality of its bonds and wrong about the quality of U.S. treasuries. Treasuries have never been more desirable.

So now S&P is free to go about its business, which is an oligopoly that it shares with Fitch and Moody’s, the same threesome that controlled the rating market in 2007. In its reregulation of the financial industry, Congress left the ratings agencies alone. Which means that at some point in the future you can expect the same problems to crop again.

TIME Economy

Europe’s Economic Band-Aid Won’t Cure What Really Ails It

Prime Minister David Cameron Tries To Take A Harder Line with Europe
Carl Court—Getty Images E.U. flags are pictured outside the European Commission building in Brussels on Oct. 24, 2014

Quantitative easing is a good start, but it won't fix the Continent's underlying wounds

Markets always love a money dump, which is why European stocks are now rallying on news that the European Central Bank will purchase 1.1 trillion worth of euro-denominated bonds between now and September 2016. Bond yields are dropping, implying less risk in the European debt markets. And the value of the euro itself is falling, which should make European exports more competitive, which could in turn bolster the European economy over all.

All good, right? For now, yes, it is all good.

But let’s remember that central bank quantitative easing (QE) of the kind that Europe is now embarking on is always just a Band-Aid on economic troubles, not a solution to underlying structural issues in a country (or in this case, a region). Just as the Fed’s $4 trillion QE money dump bolstered the markets but didn’t fix the core problems in our economy—growing inequality, a high/low job market without enough work in the middle, flat wages, historically low workforce participation—so the ECB QE will excite markets for a while, but it won’t mend the problems that led Europe to need this program to begin with.

Those consist primarily of a debt crisis stemming from the lack of real political integration within the EU. Right now, Europe has a currency and an economic union that exists in a kind of fantasy land, with no underlying political unity. Until the Germans start acting more European (meaning creating a consumption society and realizing that they’ll have to do some fiscal transfers to struggling peripheral nations in exchange for the huge export benefits they get from the euro), and countries like Spain, Italy, Portugal and France start making the changes they really need (all the usual stuff—labor market reforms, cutting red tape, fighting corruption, opening up service markets), the debt crisis won’t go away.

Indeed, the challenge now is for countries is to use the breathing room that the ECB has given them to really come together over the next 18 months and make those reforms happen while committing to a truly integrated Europe. Germany should say it will unequivocally back peripheral nations financially in exchange for a promise of real reforms in those nations. (There should also be tough penalties for failure on both sides of the bargain.)

That will be tough for sure, but Europe will find itself in an even worse place come September 2016 if it doesn’t take action now. Post QE, without any real structural reform, the EU will simply have an even more bloated balance sheet, and the market will exact punishment for it. For a historical lesson on this, look to the many emerging market crises of the past where countries tried to spend themselves out of their problems without doing underlying reforms; it always ends in a stock market crash, a financial crisis, and plenty of tears.

The buck has stopped for Europe. The ECB has called policy makers’ bluff. It’s time to create a real United States of Europe to match the common currency.

TIME Careers & Workplace

Here’s How You Can Make One Million Dollars

one-hundred-dollar-bills-stacked
Getty Images

These steps are neither fast nor easy. But they're more likely to work than the quick and easy path

Inc. logo

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Say you want to become a millionaire. Or a multimillionaire.

Or hey, even a billionaire. (Why not?)

The goal is clear…but the path can be anything but.

But not to Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot (No. 1,100 on the 2014 Inc. 5000 and a company that recently went public). Dharmesh sees a clear, if slow and difficult, path to becoming a millionaire–or to reaching whatever level of financial success you aspire to.

Here’s Dharmesh:

Money of course isn’t everything. Not by a long shot. Where your definition of success is concerned, money may rank far down the list. Everyone’s definition of “success” is different.

Here’s my definition: Success is making the people that believed in you look brilliant.

For me, money doesn’t matter all that much, but I’ll confess it did at one time (probably because I didn’t have very much).

So let’s say money is on your list. And let’s say, like millions of other people, that you’d like to be a millionaire. What kinds of things should you do to increase your chances of joining the millionaire’s club?

Here are the steps I’d suggest. They’re neither fast nor easy. But they’re more likely to work than the quick and easy path.

1. Stop obsessing about money

While it sounds counterintuitive, maintaining a laser-like focus on how much you make distracts you from doing the things that truly contribute to building and growing wealth.

So shift your perspective. See money not as the primary goal but as a byproduct of doing the right things.

2. Start tracking how many people you help, even if in a very small way

The most successful people I know—both financially and in other ways—are shockingly helpful. They’re incredibly good at understanding other people and helping them achieve their goals. They know their success is ultimately based on the success of the people around them.

So they work hard to make other people successful: their employees, their customers, their vendors and suppliers…because they know, if they can do that, then their own success will surely follow.

And they will have built a business—or a career—they can be truly proud of.

3. Stop thinking about making a million dollars and start thinking about serving a million people

When you only have a few customers and your goal is to make a lot of money, you’re incented to find ways to wring every last dollar out of those customers.

But when you find a way to serve a million people, many other benefits follow. The effect of word of mouth is greatly magnified. The feedback you receive is exponentially greater—and so are your opportunities to improve your products and services. You get to hire more employees and benefit from their experience, their skills, and their overall awesomeness.

And in time, your business becomes something you never dreamed of—because your customers and your employees have taken you to places you couldn’t even imagine.

Serve a million people—and serve them incredibly well—and the money will follow.

4. See making money as a way to make more things

Generally speaking, there are two types of people.

One makes things because they want to make money; the more things they make, the more money they make. What they make doesn’t really matter that much to them–they’ll make anything as long as it pays.

The other wants to make money because it allows them to make more things. They want to improve their product. They want to extend their line. They want to create another book, another song, another movie. They love what they make and they see making money as a way to do even more of what they love. They dream of building a company that makes the best things possible…and making money is the way to fuel that dream and build that company they love.

While it is certainly possible to find that one product that everyone wants and grow rich by selling that product, most successful businesses evolve and grow and, as they make money, reinvest that money in a relentless pursuit of excellence.

“We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.” — Walt Disney

5. Do one thing better

Pick one thing you’re already better at than most people. Just. One. Thing. Become maniacally focused at doing that one thing. Work. Train. Learn. Practice. Evaluate. Refine. Be ruthlessly self-critical, not in a masochistic way but to ensure you continue to work to improve every aspect of that one thing.

Financially successful people do at least one thing better than just about everyone around them. (Of course it helps if you pick something to be great at that the world also values—and will pay for.)

Excellence is its own reward, but excellence also commands higher pay—and greater respect, greater feelings of self-worth, greater fulfillment, a greater sense of achievement…all of which make you rich in non-monetary terms.

Win-win.

6. Make a list of the world’s 10 best people at that one thing

How did you pick those 10? How did you determine who was the best? How did you measure their success?

Use those criteria to track your own progress towards becoming the best.

If you’re an author, it could be Amazon rankings. If you’re a musician, it could be iTunes downloads. If you’re a programmer, it could be the number of people that use your software. If you’re a leader, it could be the number of people you train and develop who move on to bigger and better things. If you’re an online retailer, it could be purchases per visitor, or on-time shipping, or conversion rate…

Don’t just admire successful people. Take a close look at what makes them successful. Then use those criteria to help create your own measures of success. And then…

7. Consistently track your progress

We tend to become what we measure, so track your progress at least once a week against your key measures.

Maybe you’ll measure how many people you’ve helped. Maybe you’ll measure how many customers you’ve served. Maybe you’ll evaluate the key steps on your journey to becoming the world’s best at one thing.

Maybe it’s a combination of those things, and more.

8. Build routines that ensure progress

Never forget that achieving a goal is based on creating routines. Say you want to write a 200-page book. That’s your goal. Your system to achieve that goal could be to write four pages a day; that’s your routine. Wishing and hoping won’t get you to a finished manuscript, but sticking faithfully to your routine ensures you reach your goal.

Or say you want to land 100 new customers through inbound marketing. That’s your goal; your routine is to create new content, new videos, new podcasts, new white papers, etc., on whatever schedule you set. Stick to that routine and meet your deadlines, and if your content is great, you will land those new customers.

Wishing and hoping won’t get you there—sticking faithfully to your routine will.

Set goals, create routines that support those goals, and then ruthlessly track your progress. Fix what doesn’t work. Improve and repeat what does work. Refine and revise and adapt and work hard every day to be better than you were yesterday.

Soon you’ll be good. Then you’ll be great. And one day you’ll be world-class.

And then, probably without even noticing, you’ll also be a millionaire. You know, if you like that sort of thing.

TIME Economy

Minimum-Wage Increases Go Into Effect Across the Country

The wage hikes in several states and D.C. are expected to affect 3.1 million people

Roughly 3.1 million workers across the United States woke up to a little New Year’s Day present on Thursday, January 1, when increases in the minimum wage took effect in 20 states and the District of Columbia.

The recent bumps brought the total number of states with a minimum wage above the federal wage floor to 29, the New York Times reports. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

Some of the increases are relatively tiny—a few cents—while some, of a dollar or more, could have a more significant impact on the economy. Minimum wage hikes in more states are set to take effect later in the year, according to the NYT.

The minimum wage hike is expected to impact 3.1 million of the 3.3 million Americans who earn the minimum wage.

[NYT]

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