Seattle Raises its Minimum Wage to Nation-Leading $15 Per Hour

Timecard2BY:  TIMOTHY C. HAUGHEE

JUNE 4, 2014

The minimum wage has been a hot topic over the last year, with many members of Congress pushing for an increase in the federal minimum wage rate and the President signing an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour. Not to be outdone by the federal government, the Seattle city council voted unanimously on Monday to increase the city’s minimum wage rate to $15 per hour, which would make it the highest minimum wage in the country.

Seattle’s minimum wage increase will be slowly phased in over time, with the first portion (a $1 per hour raise) becoming effective for all businesses in April 2015. Seattle companies with more than 500 employees nationally will have three (3) years in total to phase in the remainder of the wage increase. If those companies also offer health insurance to their employees, then they will have four (4) years in total to phase in the remainder of the increase. Smaller companies in Seattle will be given seven (7) years in total to implement the remainder of the increase to $15 per hour.

Many proponents of increasing minimum wage rates are lauding Seattle’s decision and hope that other cities that are pursuing similar minimum wage increases, such as Chicago, San Diego, and Oakland, are successful. Opponents, including organizations representing businesses, believe that Seattle’s minimum wage increase will have a detrimental impact on the city’s business environment, arguing that the increase will force many small businesses to relocate outside the city limits in an effort to save on operating costs. In addition, the International Franchise Association, which represents franchise owners, has announced that it plans to file a lawsuit to overturn Seattle’s minimum wage increase ordinance.

Meanwhile, Florida’s minimum wage rate is currently $7.93 per hour, up from $7.79 per hour in 2013. The minimum wage for Florida employees who earn tips stands at $4.91 per hour. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

We will continue to monitor and report on important changes to national, state, and local minimum wage laws as they occur.

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