Washington State's innovative minimum wage law preserves buying power for low-wage workers by indexing increases to the rate of inflation. In 2011, a full-time worker earning minimum wage in Washington state earns about $18,033 annually (at 2080 hours/year) - $2,953 more than workers in states with the federal minimum wage. Those added wages are plowed right back into the local economy.
A strong minimum wage also helps Washington's economy. The annual cost of living adjustments have no significant impact on employment overall, nor in the two largest employers of minimum wage workers: retail and restaurants. Washington's law also provide employers, who know well in advance the amount of the modest annual increases, with predictability -- rather than facing occasional big jumps that result from a partisan political process.
But not every state has a voter-approved strong minimum wage law. Currently, a living wage for a family with one parent and two children is $66,589 a year in King County, or $32.01 per hour. That is almost four times the income of a full-time worker making the current state minimum wage. It takes an act of Congress, and often years of waiting, for some workers to simply get a cost of living adjustment, much less a raise.
12.14.2011 | Washington state has a high minimum wage standard that increases with the rate of inflation. This ensures full-time minimum wage workers are able to earn enough to stay above the official poverty line, which is not the case for many other states.
02.11.2011 | Economic Opportunity Institute | Someone working full time year‐round at minimum wage in Washington actually earns above the federal poverty level for a family of one or two – but it takes significantly more than a poverty level income to pay basic expenses without public assistance.
01.21.2011 | Economic Opportunity Institute | Allowing a sub-minimum wage during the first 680 hours of employment could potentially impact a large share of Washington’s workforce. It would reduce economic security and buying power for low wage working people and increase turnover, thereby adding to costs and reducing profitability for our state’s businesses.
12.91.2010 | Economic Opportunity Institute | Marilyn Watkins, Policy Director of the Economic Opportunity Institute, submitted this expert declaration on the minimum wage by request of the State of Washington. It supported the state's case, which defended Washington's automatic COLA against a lawsuit brought by corporate interests.
"We’re paying the highest wage we’ve ever had to pay, and our business is still up more than 11 percent over last year," said Tom Singleton, manager of a Papa Murphy’s in Liberty Lake, WA.
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