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Is Seattle’s Move to Raise the Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour a Sign of Things to Come?

By June 19, 2014 February 19th, 2015 No Comments

In Seattle, Washington, the City Council unanimously passed groundbreaking legislation on June 2, 2014, that gradually increases the minimum wage in the city to $15 per hour, which would make it the highest in the nation. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed the ordinance into law on June 3rd, and the new law takes effect on April 1, 2015. The current minimum wage in Washington State is $9.32 an hour.

Under the plan, the new minimum wage will increase in a phased approach over several years. Businesses with more than 500 employeesminimum wage nationally will have at least three years to phase in the increase. Those companies providing health insurance will have four years to complete the move. Small businesses will be given seven years to comply.

The current federal minimum wage is currently just $7.25 an hour, unchanged since 2009. If Congress does not raise the national minimum wage, Seattle’s $15 per hour will be more than twice the federal minimum wage.  Twenty-two states currently have a higher minimum wage than the federal standard, and some other states have been proactively increasing the minimum hourly wage in their states. For example, earlier this year, Minnesota raised its minimum wage by more than $3, to $9.50, by 2016. California, Hawaii, Michigan, Connecticut and Maryland also have passed laws increasing their respective wages to $10 or more in coming years.  According to the National Conference of State Legislation, 34 states in all are considering raising their minimum wage..