The typical minimum wage worker in Washington will earn just $17,784 per year ($8.55/hour * 2080 hours). That might be enough for a teen still living at home (although only 1/4 of minimum wage earners are teenagers), but it falls far short of $38,434, the estimated basic family budget for a single parent and child family in Seattle. Even a dual-income household earns just $35,568 per year at the minimum wage — far below the $52,507 budget needed for a two-parent, two-child family in Seattle.
Many low wage workers also don’t receive workplace benefits. For example, just 23% of full-time employees in Washington’s ‘accommodation and food service’ industry received medical insurance. Imagine how expensive a visit to the doctor or emergency room looks when you earn the minimum wage.
No surprise then that ‘living wage’ movements are beginning to take shape in more than a dozen cities and states across the country:
The minimum wage is not nearly enough to support a family, and that’s the recognition behind a new wave of organizing in the living wage movement. In the past, living wage laws have typically applied just to employers who have contracts with a city (for example, to provide janitorial services for government buildings). This time around, advocates are hoping to go broader and cover economic development projects that receive public subsidies – and they are succeeding in making their case.
Learn more about these proposals and where they are taking place in Annette Bernhardt’s column, Wage Policy from the Grassroots.
More To Read
December 14, 2018
The State of Working Washington 2018: Part 5
December 6, 2018
The State of Working Washington 2018: Part 4