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King County Approves Minimum Wage Increase to Over $20 an Hour

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King County Approves Minimum Wage Increase to Over $20 an Hour
Source: Pinterest

King County Approves Minimum Wage Increase to Over $20 an Hour

Source: Pinterest

On Tuesday, May 14, 2024, King County, Washington, approved a $20.29 an hour minimum wage. This increment was due to countrywide inflation and will continue to increase. 

The new minimum wage is becoming a trend in the US amid rising inflation and cost of living. Businesses with over 500 employees will ensure that the new minimum wage becomes effective by January 2025, while others have until 2030 to work on their increase in minimum wages per hour. 

About the New Minimum Wage

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Amid rising inflation in the country, the Metropolitan King County Council on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, decided to raise their hourly minimum wage to at least $20. 

However, the increment rate to $20 was raised slightly to $20.29 per hour, exceeding the level in Seattle, Washington. This also equals Tukwila for the highest minimum wage in the country. 

ALSO READ: Customers Condemn $21 Subway Sandwich Amid California Minimum Wage Hike

The Need for a Minimum Wage Increase

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The council members argued that employees in the region are lagging behind on the hourly minimum wage.

Girmay Zahilay, a King County Councilmember, said that, given the current cost of living in King County, it is important that the region’s workers have the means to survive. 

Ability To Afford Basic Amenities

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Zahilay further states that the minimum wage increment will help residents of the region to be able to afford basic amenities. He said having just one job should be enough to cover necessities. 

He explained that with just one job, an individual should be able to afford basic needs such as rent and groceries. He said that the council has done well by working towards the goal of passing his minimum wage ordinance. 

Making King County a Good Place To Live and Work

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Zahilay was thrilled about the council’s decision to increase the minimum wage. In a released statement on the King County website, he commends the cooperation from the people of the region. 

He mentions his pride and gratitude for collaboration with local unions, business owners, and fellow council members. Together, they are working to uplift the communities across the county and make it a good place to live and work. 

King County Minimum Wage Higher Than Washington State

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While the King County Council members have come together to increase the region’s minimum wage, Washington state’s minimum wage remains at $16.28 per hour. Those who co-sponsored the new minimum wage in King County felt the state minimum wage was insufficient. 

Council members like Rod Dembowski, Teresa Mosqueda, and Jorge L. Barón co-sponsored the new minimum wage. According to Dembowski, everyone working in the region should benefit from the region’s strong economy. 

Urgent Need for the New Minimum Wage

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Dembowski emphasized the urgent need for a minimum wage increase in King County. He mentioned how the residents of the region are hardworking yet they are struggling to make ends meet. 

Dembowski said thousands of hardworking residents of King County are struggling to meet the cost of living due to constant inflation, and the minimum wages they receive are not doing justice for them. He noted that he’s proud to have co-sponsored the new $20.29 minimum wage per hour. 

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High Cost of Living

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The general cost of living in Washington state has risen in recent months. According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in February 2024, the prices of things in Seattle, including King County, have experienced a 4.3 percent increase in over a year. 

Also, the cost of living has increased by 3.6 percent over a year in the whole of the West Census region, which includes California and Washington states. 

Small Businesses To Offer Lower Minimum Wage

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Small business owners in King County are exempt from the new minimum wage increase. The King County minimum hourly wage is set at $20.29, but small businesses are expected to pay their employees less than that. 

A business whose annual gross revenue is less than $2 million and has less than 15 employees is expected to only offer its workers a $17.29 minimum wage.

Rejection of a Proposed Amendment

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Small businesses with less than 15 workers and less than $2 million in revenue are expected to offer just $17.29 as minimum wage. Businesses with 15 or fewer employees and a yearly gross revenue of over $2 million are expected to offer at least $18.29 as their hourly minimum wage. 

All these were considered during the metropolitan King County council on Tuesday. However, a proposed amendment to include tips, gratuities, and employer healthcare premiums in the minimum wage was immediately rejected. 

Strategy To Put More Money in the Region’s Economies

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A council member, Mosqueda, praised the idea of raising wages in the region. He explained how this would help hardworking families afford basic amenities and save money for rainy days. 

Mosqueda speaks about how raising the minimum wage is a strategy to put more money into the region’s economies. And he also points to the fact he’s happy that small business owners are put into consideration while the new minimum wage is being approved. 

 

ALSO READ: Other Workers Demand Minimum Wage Increase After California Fast-Food Workers Wage Hike

Critics of the Minimum Wage Increment

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There are critics of the new minimum wage rule in the region. Some business owners complain about the feasibility of the minimum wage increment based on the nature of their business. 

Some business owners, like dairy farmers, are worried because the federal government determines the price of milk. Hence, they can’t go against that and are trying to see how it’ll be convenient for them to adjust to the new rules. 

California Has Also Increased the Minimum Wage in 2024

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It appears that the King County region in Washington state is not the only place to have experienced an increased minimum wage per hour; California is another state that has experienced an increased minimum wage per hour, especially in the fast-food industry. 

The fast-food chain in California has increased its minimum wage to $20 per hour amid the cost of living. But it appears that the latest increase of minimum wage in the King County region is a bit higher than that of California. 

 

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