Wage Highest In Nation, Sets Stage For Others To Follow
Monday, the Seattle City Council unanimously voted to gradually raise the
minimum wage to $15 an hour, which would make it the highest in the nation. The
current state minimum wage is $9.32 an hour. For businesses with 500 or more
workers, the wage will rise to $15 an hour by 2017 if the companies do not
provide health insurance. For companies that do provide health insurance, the
new minimum wage phases in by 2018. For businesses with fewer than 500
employees, the new wage will be phased in over seven years. In addition, the
new law allows employers to include tips to bring a worker’s wages up to the
$15 minimum, but that provision ultimately phases out after seven years.
Finally, the wage will also be indexed for inflation annually. The city
projects that the wage will hit $18.13 by 2025.
Media coverage of opposition to the wage increase centered on restaurants.
Seattle restaurant owners argue that the new law will force them to sideline
expansion and hiring plans, force them to raise prices and possibly cut their
hours of operation.
What This Means Going Forward:
Media coverage notes that organizations
are already lining up to challenge the new law in court, but so far, no one is
predicting how those challenges will play out or over how long a timeline. The
experience in Seattle is likely to be closely watched by other municipalities
considering sharp wage increases, such as Chicago and Providence, Rhode Island.