(Yes, there will still be restaurants.)
The Seattle workers who won the city's landmark $15 minimum wage law will see their first increases next week, while the movement to raise wages and lift up the economy continues to spread across the state. Here's what's happening with wages:
What happens to wages on April 1st:
- If you work for an employer or chain with more than 500 employees nationally, it's simple: your minimum wage is $11/hour.
- If you work for a smaller employer or chain, two things happen: your minimum compensation is $11/hour, and your minimum wage is $10/hour. Minimum compensation is the sum of your wage, any tips you receive, and the cost to your employer of providing you healthcare benefits.
- Minimum compensation is only relevant to people who work at smaller companies or chains, and phases out over time. Nobody covered by the law can be paid less than $10/hour in wages, regardless of tips or healthcare.
Will there still be restaurants?
Yes, there will still be restaurants in Seattle. And new ones will open.
- About 40,000 workers are getting a raise April 1st. A total of about 100,000 Seattle workers are currently paid less than $15/hour and will see increases in the next few years. That's about 1 in 5 people who work in the city.
- People in Seattle who work for big companies or chains that don't pay for healthcare benefits get to $15/hour on January 1, 2017. The $15/hour minimum will increase with inflation every year after that; this rate will set the standard which all workers will reach by the end of the phase in.
- Every low-wage worker in the city will see a significant increase to their base wage each year as they get to $15/hour, and then to parity with the citywide minimum.
- And every worker gets to the same place at the end of the phase-in: a true inflation-adjusted $15 minimum wage — with no adjustments for tips or benefits. At typical rates of inflation, the citywide minimum for all workers will reach about $18.13/hour in ten years.