In early June, the Seattle City Council approved a plan that will require employers to pay a $15 minimum wage. Businesses with more than 500 workers will have to set their minimum wage at $11 by April of next year, and reach $15 in 2017. Large businesses that provide health care will have an additional year to comply with the new law. Businesses with fewer than 500 employees will be required to pay $15 to minimum wage workers by 2019. Small businesses that claim a credit for tips and benefits have until 2021 to reach $15 an hour. According to city projections, by 2025 all workers will be earning a minimum wage of $18.13 an hour, which is nearly double the state’s current $9.32 an hour.
Seattle lawmakers hope that their plan will spurn states and cities nationwide to follow suit. In fact, many cities and states have been making plans to increase their minimum wage. The week before Seattle’s plan passed, California SB 935, which provides for increases in the California minimum wage, passed through the California Senate. Under the current language of the bill, the California minimum wage would move to $11 an hour in January 2015, $12 an hour in January 2016, and $13 an hour in January 2017. Increases again in 2018 and would then be based upon inflation. SB 935 is expected to pass the Assembly, and if it does it will then be sent to Governor Brown.
Michigan, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia have all recently raised their minimum wages. The mayor of New York City is working to overturn a decision holding that state minimum wage preempts city minimum wage laws in order to raise the minimum wage in New York City. These efforts to increase rates of pay come from pressure from President Barack Obama and Democrats, who have made the minimum wage increase a major issue this election year. Ultimately, the main goal is to create economic policy that helps middle-class America.