MONEY

Washington minimum wage to rise 3.4% in 2024

Sep 29, 2023, 5:39 PM | Updated: Oct 16, 2023, 2:39 pm

Image: A petition about raising the minimum wage in Tukwila...

A petition about raising the minimum wage in Tukwila (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

The state of Washington’s minimum wage will rise to $16.28 per hour in 2024, a 3.4% increase over 2023’s $15.74 an hour, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) announced Friday. It takes effect Jan. 1.

Washington has the highest state-level minimum wage in the nation, L&I reported. Numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor (L&I) confirm Washington having the highest statewide minimum wage, but the city of Washington D.C. is higher as it currently is $16.50. The federal minimum wage remains $7.25 an hour.

Under Washington law, L&I calculates the minimum wage for the coming year based on the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). In making the calculation, L&I compares the CPI-W index from August of the previous year to August of the current year. The federal August numbers can be found here.

The state minimum wage applies to workers age 16 and older. Under state law, employers can pay 85% of the minimum wage to workers ages 14-15. For 2024, the wage for that younger group will be $13.84 per hour, L&I reported.

Cities can set minimum wages higher than the state. Seattle ($19.97 in 2024), Tukwila ($18.99) and SeaTac ($19.06) all have higher wages for large employers (more than 500 workers).

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King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay announced legislation earlier this month that would create a minimum wage of $18.99 per hour for unincorporated King County, his office said in a press release.

“Workers in unincorporated King County are always left out of policies that increase the minimum wage in neighboring cities,” Zahilay said in a prepared statement. “That means someone working in Skyway could be paid several dollars less per hour than if they went a block north to Seattle or a block west to Tukwila. That’s not right.

“If passed, our proposal to increase the minimum wage in unincorporated King County would be a big step toward investing in the workers and economy of every corner of our region,” Zahilay’s statement continued.

The coalition is being led by Zahilay, County Councilmembers Rod Dembowski, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, and Joe McDermott and a handful of local businesses.

Dembowski said he was proud to co-sponsor the ordinance.

“Raising the minimum wage in unincorporated King County to match nearby cities is good policy and the right thing to do for King County workers,” Dembowski said in a press release.

In California: Gov. Newsom signs law to raise minimum wage for fast food workers to $20 per hour

Currently, King County’s minimum wage is aligned with the state’s $15.74 an hour 2023 benchmark. This proposal would bump that number up to $18.99 across the county’s unincorporated areas for businesses with over 500 employees. If approved, the minimum wage would take effect Jan. 1, 2024. It would then increase yearly “to reflect the rate of inflation.”

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition 2023 renters report released earlier this year, workers in the state of Washington need to earn twice the state’s minimum wage to afford rent.

“In order to afford this level of rent and utilities — without paying more than 30% of income on housing — a household must earn $3,143 monthly or $37,715 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into an hourly housing wage of $36.33 an hour,” the NLIHC said in their report.

In order to afford a typical one-bedroom apartment in Washington, a worker needs to earn $30.33.

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Washington minimum wage to rise 3.4% in 2024