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Gov. Inslee Makes It Official: He Wants Minimum Wage Raised in Washington

Inslee officially wants minimum wage increase
(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

He stopped short of the $15-per-hour figure under review by the Seattle city council and already law for some workers in the City of SeaTac, Gov. Jay Inslee is advocating raising the minimum wage by at least  $1.50.

The San Jose Mercury News reported Wednesday Gov. Inslee went on the record for the first time by offering an actual figure for raising the minimum wage in Washington state.

Inslee suggested it should be somewhere between $10.82 and $11.82 per-hour.  He didn’t give a specific figure.  Inslee said “an increase in minimum wage means more money spent in our economy.”

However, many legislators — especially those in the GOP — say raising the wage would put a financial burden on businesses, especially smaller operations.  Senator Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokan, said he is “very worried” by such proposals.  He believes the best anti-poverty program is for the state is to ensure people keep jobs. Washington has the highest minimum wage in the nation, with build-in cost of living increases.

Baumgartner said people and businesses in his district are directly competing with Idaho, which has a minimum wage of $7.25-per-hour.

Critics and opponents say raising the wage significantly will prevent businesses from hiring more workers.

The Washington Policy Center Wednesday released facts about the minimum wage, and its history”

The minimum wage was established by Congress in the Fair Labor Standards Act passed in 1938. From the beginning, policymakers never intended the minimum wage be the sole source of household income or provide ‘livable’ support for a family. Rather, the intent was to ensure a reasonable wage for workers who could not command higher pay in the labor market because they had little or no work skills, such as young people just entering the work force.

According to the WPC, based upon Washington state and national government employment data:

  • Only 8% of minimum wage earners in WA state are single parents with children
  • Nearly 60% of minimum wage earners live with a family member or spouse who works. The average household income of a minimum-wage worker in WA is $47,540 annually.
  • Fewer than 4% of minimum wage workers have a college degree
  • Nationally, only 3% of ALL workers in the U.S. earn minimum wage
  • Nationally, only 3% of all workers earning minimum wage are over the age of 25.

This data, and the other information released by the WPC, flies in the constant drumbeat of politicians who claim millions of Americans are living in poverty and suffering due to having to earn the minimum wage.

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