NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Connecticut recently became the first state to pass a minimum wage above $10 into law.

Last week state Democratic Governor Dan Malloy signed a bill which will gradually phase in a new minimum wage at $10.10, the highest of any state in the nation. President Obama has made this a major piece of his domestic agenda in recent months as service workers have been striking for higher wages. Connecticut's new law is in line with an executive order passed by Obama earlier this year, which sets the same minimum for all federal employees.

The law will not take effect all at once but will step in over a three year schedule. On January 1, 2015 Connecticut's minimum wage will increase to $9.15, then to $9.60 on January 1, 2016. The full $10.10 wage will take effect January 1, 2017.

Currently the state requires a minimum of $8.70.

Although this new law will make Connecticut's the highest minimum wage of any state in the nation a handful of cities do require even higher pay. Most notably, residents of SeaTac, Washington recently voted to require $15 an hour for hospitality and transportation workers near the Seattle Airport and San Francisco imposes a $10.74 minimum.

The next highest state in the nation is Washington, which has a $9.32 minimum wage.

The new law was a largely Democratic effort. State Republicans have responded critically, arguing that the wage hike will increase the cost of labor, make Connecticut less competitive and kill jobs. The hard data as to how minimum wage laws actually impact employment, however, remains mixed.

--Written for MainStreet by Eric Reed, a freelance journalist who writes frequently on the subjects of career and travel. You can read more of his work at his website www.wanderinglawyer.com.