Fifteen-cent increase to state minimum wage comes up short for Washington workers
Washington State minimum wage rising to $9.47/hour; still less than $20,000 a year, and still not enough to pay for basics
The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries today announced that our state minimum wage will increase fifteen cents next year, from $9.32 to $9.47. For a full time worker, that’s a raise of just $26 a month — and an annual income of less than $20,000 a year.
“I can’t support the kids I have living at home while making minimum wage,” said Suzanne Kahil, who’s paid $9.32/hour at a Bellevue Jack-in-the-Box. “I depend on government assistance, and that is not right. I want to have a decent amount of money to support my family and not depend on anyone. Every job should be paying enough money to cover the basic things in life.”
Recent Census data analyzed by the University of Washington reveals that more than 14% of Washington residents live in poverty — about 1 in every 7 people in our state. And only the richest few have experienced significant income gains in recent years.
“I always struggle to pay my bills,” said Genesee Etter, a homecare aide who is paid minimum wage for her work caring for elderly and disabled people in Vancouver. “I work 60-80 hours a week, and it’s still not enough. I had to go to the food bank three times in the last two months because I don’t have enough money for food. I’m tired of being treated this way — we all are.”
Washington’s $9.47 an hour will be the highest state minimum wage in the country next year. But a 15-cent increase to the minimum wage simply doesn’t measure up to what workers need. The 2014 Jobs Gap study found that a single adult in Washington needs at least $15.99/hour to meet basic needs, deal with emergencies, and plan for the future. Research by the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows that a full-time job at $14.81/hour is necessary to pay the rent on a 1-bedroom apartment in our state.
“I work in fast food in Bothell and get paid $11/hour,” said Cora Jane Porter. “It’s not enough. I need a raise so I can get the bills paid without having to borrow money from people, get off food stamps, and have a decent lifestyle someday.”
Inspired by the landmark victories in SeaTac and Seattle, workers are rising up across the state to demand a better standard of living. In just the past few weeks, fast food strikers picketed in Bellevue, workers from across the state engaged in civil disobedience, and a new $15 campaign sprouted in Olympia.
More is yet to come.
More information on wages & income inequality:
Revealing new research shows that only the very richest few have seen income gains in recent years. The rest of us have seen long-term wage stagnation.
Corporate profits are taking a greater share of national income than ever before.
Eight of the ten fastest-growing jobs in our economy pay poverty wages.
Contact: Sage Wilson, Working Washington, firstname.lastname@example.org
Working Washington unites low-wage workers to fight for a fair economy where everyone can support themselves, afford the basics, and contribute to the economy. We launched the fast food strikes that sparked the fight for $15 in Seattle; we helped lead the successful campaign to pass $15 in SeaTac; and we work in coalition with unions, faith groups, and grassroots organizations to hold corporations & politicians accountable to community needs.