Washington’s minimum wage will adjust to $8.55 per hour on January 1, 2009. A full-time employee earning the minimum wage in Washington will earn $17,784 per year – $1,000 more than in 2008 and $4,160 more than the federal minimum of $6.55 in 27 other states.
$8.55 per hour in 2009 represents the same buying power minimum wage workers had in 2000 when Washington’s minimum wage was $6.50. In comparable dollars, today’s minimum wage is actually lower than it was 40 years ago. In 1968, Washington’s minimum wage was $1.60 per hour; if it had kept pace with inflation, it would be $10.55 in 2009.
Initiative 688, approved by voters in 1998, raised the minimum wage in steps to $6.50 in 2000, then required an annual increase based on the cost of living index for urban wage and clerical workers (CPI-W). The 48 cent adjustment for 2009 reflects the relatively high rate of inflation (5.9%) between August 2007 and August 2008.
In the Seattle metropolitan area the CPI-W was higher than the nation, at 6.2%. Basic necessities of the family budget, including food, rent, and transportation, also rose more than the overall inflation rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics August report.
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