Workers across Washington State are getting a raise
Washington State now has the highest minimum wage in the country.
On January 1st, the minimum wage increased to $15.74 per hour...that's a raise of $1.25 from last year.
Not everyone is excited about the news. Small business owners worry they’ll have to hike prices.
Kirk Duncan is a certified business advisor with the Small Business Development Center in Wenatchee. He says small businesses will have to adapt with price increases.
“It’s better to increase prices incrementally than less frequently. It’s something they have to work with. It is the new reality between inflation and the minimum wage increase.” Duncan said.
Duncan says he's cautiously optimistic small businesses won't relocate or shut down as a result of the wage hike.
“When Sea-Tac raised the minimum wage to 15 dollars several years ago, there were dire projections of businesses leaving the Sea-Tac area and that never came to pass. People were able to create efficiencies during the price increases. They were able to work with the new reality.” Duncan said.
Wages can be set higher in cities than the state. Seattle and Sea-Tac both have higher wages.
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries says the wage hike is directly linked to the cost of housing, food, medical care and other common goods as reflected in the Consumer Price Index.
The minimum wage is now more than double the federal minimum wage, which has not moved since 2009. The Labor Law Center says the federal rate of $7.25 per hour is still the minimum wage in 20 states.
Under state law, the minimum wage applies to workers aged 16 and older.