Time for a Raise: Statewide economic growth and Washington’s minimum wage

Seattle’s job boom may be making headlines, but new data show the economy is growing across Washington state. Employment markets from Spokane to Longview have experienced several years of job growth. In most counties, typical household incomes are also up, while poverty rates are down.

But the news is not all good. Across the state, costs for housing and other basics have risen dramatically. Because general inflation has been low and Washington’s minimum wage is tied to the Consumer Price Index, the statewide minimum wage did not go up at all in 2016 and is slated to increase only 6 cents to $9.53 in 2017. These factors make the initiative to raise Washington’s minimum wage in four stages to $13.50 in 2020 and include paid sick and safe leave as a basic labor standard particularly well-timed.