Washington State’s innovative minimum wage law preserves buying power for low-wage workers by indexing increases to the rate of inflation. In 2014, a full-time worker earning minimum wage in Washington state earns over $19,000 annually – $4,000+ more than workers in states with the federal minimum wage. Those added wages are plowed right back into main street businesses and the local economy.
But Washington’s minimum wage of $9.32 isn’t enough to cover the basics of rent, food, transportation, and childcare. If minimum wage had kept pace with productivity gains of the past three decades it would now be well above $16. Growing income inequality is causing economic instability and job-killing recessions.
We need to do something about low wages. Workers and policymakers are uniting across the country to push for higher minimum wages. President Obama and members of Congress are calling for a $10.10 federal minimum wage, while Seattle and other cities are moving toward $15. A proposal introduced in Washington’s legislature in 2014 would increase the state minimum wage in three steps to $12.
Low wage workers are all ages. Some support families, or are trying to put themselves through school in the face of skyrocketing tuition. EOI research and policy work aims to assure that our minimum wage laws recognize the dignity of all work and the humanity of all workers.