Washington City Approves $15 Minimum Wage
While gubernatorial and mayoral elections stole the spotlight, voters in Washington city Sea-Tac approved a minimum wage increase to a national high of $15, nearly $6 higher than the state’s $9.19 minimum wage.
Sea-Tac, is home to Seattle’s airport and has a population of about 27,000 people. On Tuesday, 54 percent of voters approved of the wage increase after a strong campaign by several major unions. Opponents of the ballot measure argued that it will hurt small businesses and make it more difficult for young people to get work. In reality, Washington state already has the highest minimum wage in the nation yet Seattle has just a 4.7 percent unemployment rate and Sea-Tac has a rate of 6.0 percent, compared with 7.3 across the rest of the US.
While this is the highest wage increase we have seen, it’s one of many efforts around the United States to increase the minimum wage since the federal government doesn’t seem interested in raising anything.
On Tuesday, New Jersey also raised their minimum wage by $1 to $8.25 per hour, including a provision that will increase the minimum wage annually based on the cost of living. Ten other states have similar formulas in place. California recently voted to raise their minimum wage from $8 to $10 while New York and Connecticut have approved gradual increases to $9. States like Massachusetts, South Dakota, and Idaho are planning similar ballot measures for the next election in 2014.
In total, 19 states and Washington D.C. now have a minimum wage higher than the federal $7.25. In the 1960s and 70s, the federal minimum wage was around $10 per hour when adjusted for inflation.
The minimum wage is no longer reserved for high school students. The average age of a minimum wage employee is now 35-years-old and 88 percent are older than 20. Thirty-six percent of minimum wage employees are older than 40 and 28 percent have children. With mid-wage jobs evaporating and being replaced by low-wage jobs, increasing the minimum wage is quickly becoming imperative to sustain a living wage for the modern workforce.
(Image courtesy of The All-Nite Images)