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Campaign seeks to push Seattle minimum wage to $15

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 19, 2013 at 1:04 pm •  Published: August 19, 2013
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SEATTLE (AP) — Washington already has the nation's highest state minimum wage at $9.19 an hour. Now, there's a push in Seattle, at least, to make it $15.

That would mean fast food workers, retail clerks, baristas and other minimum wage workers would get what protesters demanded when they shut down a handful of city restaurants in May and others called for when they demonstrated nationwide in July.

So far, the City Council and mayoral candidates have said they would consider it in the famously liberal city. One said, however, that it may not be soon.

Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer said there's no time to waste. What the nation needs is money in the hands of regular consumers. "A higher minimum wage is a very simple and elegant solution to the death spiral of falling demand that is the signature feature of our economy," he said.

Some businesses advocates say a higher minimum wage will make it harder for companies in Seattle to survive. They cite Wal-Mart, which has all but refused to accept a Washington, D.C., decision to raise the minimum wage to $12.50 an hour in big box stores.

A higher minimum wage eliminates low wage jobs because that's how small businesses cut costs and that ends up hurting the people it was supposed to benefit, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Fast food and retail workers, meanwhile, are calling for a nationwide strike on Aug. 29 to push for $15 an hour.

More than 15 million workers earn the national minimum wage, making about $15,080 a year — $50 below the federal poverty line for a family of two. San Francisco currently has the highest minimum wage for all workers at $10.50 an hour.

Economist Chris Benner of the University of California at Davis does not agree that a higher minimum wage would lead to job losses.

"There may be some job impact in those small businesses themselves," he said. But in the entire economy, when you increase income to low-wage workers, it creates jobs because those workers are likely to spend their additional income and that increases demand for goods and services.

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