Seattle Business Magazine: Keep the Minimum Wage High

From the Seattle Business Magazine | By John Levesque

Now is not the time for Washington state to scale back on providing a decent living wage.

You probably heard this one before: Having a job is the new raise.

True enough. In this desultory economy, few workers are likely to barge into the boss’s office demanding a raise and a company car. They’re just happy to have a boss. But some jobholders in Washington state actually got a sweet pay hike this month. On January 1, the state’s minimum wage went from $8.67 an hour to $9.04 an hour—the highest minimum wage among the 50 states.

Woo-hoo! For minimum-wage earners lucky enough to work a 40-hour schedule, that pencils out to an extra 15 bucks a week. Those keeping score at home will note that this latest increase takes the annual gross for a minimum-wage worker in Washington from $18,033 to $18,803 a year. A family of three is officially “poor” in this country if its income is $18,530 or less, so one way to look at the 37-cent pay raise is that it lifted at least some people out of “official” poverty and into, well, the outskirts of poverty.

As ridiculous as it sounds, that’s something to be proud of. Elsewhere in this issue, an academician suggests that forgoing this year’s increase in the minimum wage might create more jobs and help jump-start the economy. He may be right, but do we really need to rescue the economy on the backs of those who can least afford to carry out the offensive?

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