Washington’s minimum wage standard

Protecting workers and families during tough economic times

Issue Brief | December 12, 2011 | By Tatsuko Go Hollo

Executive Summary

  • Washington is one of 10 states with a cost of living adjustment to its minimum wage, and one of 9 with a rate of $8.00 or more. Beginning in 2012, Washington will be the only state with a minimum wage above $9.00.
  • Minimum wage workers are disproportionately young, female, and people of color, but more than half are over age 25 and 20% are over age 45.
  • Between February 2010 and November 2011, jobs in Washington grew by 2.5%. The sectors with the highest concentrations of minimum wage jobs kept pace with or exceeded that rate of growth, including accommodation and food service (4.8% growth), health care and social assistance (3.1%), and retail (2.4%).
  • Although Washington’s minimum wage allows a full-time worker to maintain a family of 3 above the official federal poverty line, it falls below the level necessary to meet basic living expenses for a single adult in most parts of the state – and many minimum wage jobs do not provide full-time work.
  • Contrary to claims that a strong minimum wage leads to job loss or discrimination against less experienced workers, research continues to show good wages are better for workers and businesses alike.

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Posted in A Fair Deal at Work, Minimum Wage