Does $15 minimum wage help Seattle Workers?
Starting in 2014, the City of Seattle developed a committee that would answer the calls for compensation increases for workers. The committee consisted of representatives from the city council, unions, businesses an chamber of commerce members who gave a recommendation for wage increases. This recommendation eventually became the minimum wage ordinance that will gradually increase wages to $15 over a period of time. After the ordinance was implemented, the University of Washington was commissioned to evaluate the results of the ordinance.
The recent release of a University of Washington minimum wage study has renewed debate about whether increasing the minimum wage is a good or bad policy for businesses and workers. The study has yet to be peer-reviewed and estimates that the average worker lost $125 a month and businesses have responded to the wage increase by reducing hiring, cutting hours or letting workers go.
The conclusions drawn from this study has supported the claims of organizations like the Employment Policies Institute, which argues that requiring a higher minimum wage would hurt local or new businesses who may struggle to turn a profit while competing with large corporations and chains. It launched a campaign called “The Faces of $15” that tells stories from small business owners describing how requiring extra expenses like higher wages and healthcare place a heavy burden on small businesses trying to turn a profit in addition to meeting other laws and regulations.
On the other side of the debate, some groups and organizations like the National Employment Law Project (NELP) argue that it is important for workers to have a “living wage” that enables them to afford basic necessities like food, housing, and transportation that may increase due to inflation, gentrification or other economic changes. The Fight for 15 organization, has organized marches and protests against “poverty wages” and have advocated for their right to earn a living wage while working for a business.
The University of Washington study was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research and can be found here: https://evans.uw.edu/policy-impact/minimum-wage-study
Calling all Seattle workers: how have you been affected by the $15 minimum wage increase?
Let dumpling know how increasing minimum wage has affected your workplace: http://www.dumpling.us/