Minimum wage

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Even hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour may not be enough to allow low-wage workers to afford rent in Seattle, according to a new study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says a $15 per hour minimum wage in Seattle may not have such a big effect on his company, but he’s concerned it would hit small- and medium-sized businesses hard.

The issue of raising the minimum wage has dominated headlines in Seattle ever since Kshama Sawant, who has been pushing for the increase, won a city council seat last fall.

Ashley Gross

At the beginning of the year, the minimum wage in the city of SeaTac jumped to $15 an hour for workers at large hotels and parking lot companies. But employees at one parking lot business have complained to the city that they still haven’t gotten the raise almost three months later. 

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Business owners, union members, restaurant employees and activists each got two minutes Wednesday night to say their piece about a higher minimum wage in Seattle. The city council and a committee appointed by Mayor Ed Murray held the forum as they weigh possibly hiking the wage floor to $15 an hour. 

AP Photo

 (Editor's note: This has been updated to include Conway's analysis on the minimum wage that he presented in his March 2014 issue of The Puget Sound Economic Forecaster.)

For hours on Wednesday, people spoke up both for and against the proposal to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. At 60 percent higher than the state’s current minimum wage, it’s an eye-popping number. 

But well-known regional economist Dick Conway says the figure is not so crazy.

Molly Riley / AP Photo

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez says he supports the idea of a higher minimum wage, but he wouldn’t comment on whether Seattle’s proposed rate of $15 per hour makes sense. Perez made the comments during a visit to Boeing’s Renton factory Monday.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Washington Speaker of the House Frank Chopp supports a minimum wage hike. But he says the issue wasn’t ready for a vote on the House floor this year. The Democrat made his comments Friday in a rare meeting with the Capitol press corps.

“I think it was important to start the conversation and have a good discussion, and figure out where there’s consensus over moving forward. Because if you’re working, you shouldn’t be poor,” Chopp said.

Ashley Gross

Seattle businesses are increasingly voicing concerns over the possibility of the city hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour. On Thursday they brought those concerns to a mayor-appointed committee tasked with evaluating whether such a high minimum wage makes sense.

At $9.32 per hour, Washington state already has the highest minimum wage in the country, and $15 an hour represents a 60 percent increase.

“That kind of an immediate jump would have critical — and I don’t think it’s overly dramatic to say possibly fatal — consequences for our business,” said Peter Aaron, who owns Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

AP Photo

President Barack Obama recently ordered a minimum wage increase for federal contractors. Now Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says he may consider a similar executive order at the state level.

The Democrat made his comments Friday after a meeting with the president at the White House where minimum wage was discussed.

Whatever you already believed about raising the federal minimum wage, you now have more ammo for your argument, thanks to a report released Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office, titled "The Effects of a Minimum-Wage Increase on Employment and Family Income."

Yes, you're right: Raising the wage in steps to $10.10 an hour by 2016 would push employers to cut jobs — about 500,000 of them, says the CBO, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo


We’re hearing a lot these days about raising the minimum wage.

President Obama talked about it in his State of the Union address last month. SeaTac voters approved a $15 per hour base wage last fall. And there’s a push now to adopt the same in Seattle. Even in Idaho, there’s a minimum wage campaign afoot.

It turns out this is no accident; it's part of a national effort to put the issue before politicians and voters.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Port of Seattle commissioners are pushing back against pressure from other elected officials to adopt the SeaTac living wage ordinance at Sea-Tac Airport.

A total of 57 state lawmakers, King County officials and SeaTac city officials have urged the commission to drop its opposition to the SeaTac minimum wage ordinance. Last November, SeaTac voters approved Proposition 1 to lift wages for some workers in and around the airport to $15 per hour. 

mSeattle / Flickr

Washington’s minimum wage would rise to $12 an hour by 2017 under a proposal from Democrats in the state House. The measure introduced Thursday would phase-in the $2.68 increase over three years.

Freshman Democrat Jessyn Farrell of Seattle is the prime sponsor.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is calling for a hike in the minimum wage as well as cost-of-living increases for teachers. Those were two of the Democrat’s key policy proposals in his State of the State speech Tuesday.

But Republicans lawmakers quickly shot down the ideas.

AP Photo

As many as 2,000 people are expected to attend the inauguration of the city's first gay mayor and its first modern-day socialist council member at City Hall today.

Both candidates were officially sworn in during a private ceremony on Jan. 1. Today's ceremonial event is open to the public, and takes place in the City Hall lobby at 3:30 p.m.

AP Photo

Seattle Mayor-Elect Ed Murray has issued an executive order to move toward a $15 per hour minimum wage for all city employees.

Announcing the order at a news conference Friday morning, Murray said he has asked the heads of the city’s departments to develop a comprehensive strategy in the next four months to adopt the higher wage.

“They will explore potential options surrounding the implementation, including the possible option of making it retroactive to the beginning of 2014,” he said.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee says it’s time for a discussion on raising the state’s already highest-in-the-nation minimum wage. The Democrat’s comments Thursday come in the wake of a vote in the city of SeaTac and a new push by Seattle Mayor-Elect Ed Murray to raise the local minimum wage to $15 per hour.

The governor stopped short of calling for a $15 statewide minimum wage.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Seattle’s incoming mayor has convened a task force to study boosting the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, and he has asked incoming socialist city council member Kshama Sawant to join.

Mayor-Elect Ed Murray said he believes it is a necessary step toward tackling economic inequality, but he also insists he is not prejudicing the outcome of the committee. In addition to Sawant, his 23-member task force includes business interests, organized labor and community groups.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Seattle’s newly-elected Socialist city council member Kshama Sawant isn’t wasting any time. At a news conference Tuesday, Sawant boldly promised “2014 will be the year of the $15-an-hour minimum wage.”

Sawant, who won’t be sworn in until January, has already been meeting with council members and labor leaders. But she says she’s also looking for support from ordinary people on the street.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Dozens of fast-food workers and activists took to the streets Thursday for a day-long march in support of $15 minimum wage.

The march began in SeaTac, where voters approved a $15 minimum wage this year, and headed for Seattle City Hall as a symbolic push for Seattle to follow SeaTac’s suit and adopt the higher wage.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Voters in the city of SeaTac have approved a $15 minimum wage, but opponents have already requested a recount. 

Proposition 1 passed by a slim margin of 77 votes out of 6,003 votes cast. But even before the ballots were certified Tuesday, the group Common Sense SeaTac called for a recount in the hotly-contested initiative. The group is supported by Alaska Airlines, rental car companies and airport baggage-handling businesses.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

A campaign to set a $15 minimum wage in the city of SeaTac is poised for victory.

King County officials are expected to certify the election Tuesday after counting some straggling votes that likely won't change the outcome. The measure involving workers in and around Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has steadily expanded its lead in recent days and held a 77-vote advantage on Monday afternoon.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

The voter initiative to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour for airport and hotel workers in SeaTac is still undecided.

The initiative was passing by just 43 votes on Tuesday afternoon. And activists say they don’t expect a clear outcome before Thanksgiving due to hundreds of contested ballots in a relatively small electorate. 

Ashley Gross / KPLU

You may be surprised to know that under federal law, employers may not have to pay minimum wage if the worker is disabled. Now, disability rights activists in Seattle are joining a national movement to change that law, which dates back to 1938.

If you hit the drive-through, chances are that the cashier who rings you up or the cook who prepared your food relies on public assistance to make ends meet.

A new analysis finds that 52 percent of fast-food workers are enrolled in, or have their families enrolled in, one or more public assistance programs such as SNAP (food stamps) Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have poured into both sides of a heated controversy over a proposed minimum wage hike in the city of SeaTac. 

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday denied an appeal by Alaska Airlines and other business groups seeking to keep the living-wage ordinance off the November ballot.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

After a legal tug-of-war, supporters of a $15 per hour minimum wage for some workers in SeaTac have gotten their initiative on the November ballot.

Alaska Airlines, the Washington Restaurant Association and an airport restaurant owner had challenged the validity of some of the petition signatures, but a panel of appeals judges ruled that those signatures should be counted and the measure will head to the voters.

Ashley Gross

Fast food workers in Seattle and Tacoma demanding higher pay walked off the job Thursday as part of a nationwide strike. Experts say it’s a rare show of labor strength at a time when unions have lost influence.

Workers and community supporters stood outside a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop in downtown Seattle, chanting, “Get up! Strike!” One Metro bus driver raised his fist to show his support as he drove by.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

A King County Superior judge has thrown out a few dozen signatures for an initiative that would bring up the minimum wage in SeaTac, Wash., to $15 an hour.

But the group behind the initiative has submitted another 250 signatures to replace the ones thrown out.

Bellamy Pailthorp Photos / KPLU News

Workers at fast-food restaurants all over Seattle walked off the job Thursday and rallied outside, taking part in a national movement calling for better wages and the right to organize.

The workers walked out of Taco Bell in Ballard, Burger King in Lake City, Taco Del Mar in the U-District, and Arby’s in Georgetown. During the lunch hour on Broadway, dozens of workers and their supporters waved signs outside an empty Qdoba franchise, demanding a living wage of $15 per hour.