MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Is there an exodus of low-wage workers from Seattle?

Sep 19, 2016, 11:16 AM | Updated: 11:33 am

workers...

The Seattle Times reports there are fewer households earning less than $40,000. But are those residents getting raises or just leaving the city? (AP)

(AP)

A professor at the University of Washington is doubtful that Seattle’s increased minimum wage has had much to do with the city’s median income rising over the past year.

Robert Plotnick, a professor of Public Affairs at UW’s Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, told The Seattle Times that raising the minimum wage for small and large companies likely did not have much of an impact on the increased earnings being reported in the city.

The Times reports that in one year, households earning less than $35,000 decreased by at least 13 percent — that’s more than 10,000 households at the $35,000 mark. At the same time, households earning more than $150,000 increased by 13.2 percent, according to the Times.

Related: Seattle council’s vote on scheduling could ‘transform the lives’

Under the minimum wage law, employers with 501 or more employees must now pay $13 an hour, or $12.50 an hour if medical benefits are provided. Small employers, which have 500 or fewer employees, have to pay $12 an hour, or $10.50 if medical benefits are provided. Those wages increased at the start of 2016.

Those wages, according to Plotnick, aren’t likely to make a big dent in the statistics. That is because while weekly earning went up by “five or ten bucks,” hours decreased. Instead, it’s more likely that people are getting raises and finding themselves no longer at the low end of incomes, he told the Times.

Though Plotnick believes that people are seeing increased wages, it’s possible that others are being pushed out of the city.

In June of 2015, the Times reported that the top 5 percent of households were seeing their incomes recovering faster from the recession. Those making less than $32,500, however, saw incomes decline.

KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz said nobody should be shocked by the trend when it was reported. He predicted it would continue because the labor market is changing.

“You have low-skilled jobs being automated, which will obviously have human beings as the losers in this fight,” he said. “If you have low skills, you are becoming less and less important to a lot of businesses.

“And now that you’ve put individual cities (rather than the whole state) on the path to $15 an hour, you’re making it even harder on people who have low skills to find work because you’re asking to be paid more than you’re worth to a company. So now, the employer will look for someone overqualified for the low-end job so they can do more than just the basics.”

The report from the Times comes just as the Seattle City Council prepares to vote on regulating how workers are scheduled. If a proposal passes Monday afternoon, Seattle would have the strongest secure scheduling law in the country.

The new law would mean that workers would get two weeks of advance notice on work schedules. Additionally, any changes by an employer would result in the worker getting extra pay. There would also have to be a minimum of 10 hours between shifts. And employers would have to offer any available hours to existing employees before hiring more people.

MyNorthwest News

Trump convention speech...

STEVE PEOPLES, JONATHAN J. COOPER and JILL COLVIN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Trump: ‘The discord and division in our society must be healed’

Donald Trump accepted the GOP presidential nomination on Thursday at the Republican National Convention and said the country must 'heal.'

10 hours ago

Image: A Tacoma Police Department vehicle is seen on a street....

Steve Coogan

Human finger found in Tacoma driveway IDed, returned to owner

The case of a mysterious human finger found in a Tacoma driveway earlier this month has been solved and the digit was returned to its owner.

13 hours ago

Photo: Police are looking for a Tacoma serial arsonist after a rash of fires. This photo is of a fi...

James Lynch

Tacoma police looking for serial arsonist after rash of fires endanger lives, property

Tacoma police are currently searching for a serial arsonist after a rash of fires in the area endangered lives and property.

14 hours ago

Photo: This man was arrested in connection with a Kent attempted kidnapping on July 16, 2024....

Julia Dallas

Bail set: 11-year-old girls save 6-year-old from being kidnapped in Kent

A man was arrested and bail set for allegedly trying to kidnap a 6-year-old. Fortunately, three 11-year-old girls stepped in.

15 hours ago

Photo: Data from the Downtown Seattle Association confirmed visitors are coming back to downtown, f...

Julia Dallas

Visitors are filling downtown Seattle streets near pre-pandemic levels

Data from the Downtown Seattle Association confirmed visitors are coming back to downtown, filling the streets at levels close to 2019.

17 hours ago

Photo: Teens were caught allegedly robbing a 7-Eleven in Renton on July 18, 2024....

Julia Dallas

4 teens arrested in connection with Renton 7-Eleven robbery

Four teenagers were arrested in connection with the robbery of a 7-Eleven in Renton early Thursday morning.

18 hours ago

Is there an exodus of low-wage workers from Seattle?