Studying Up on the Minimum Wage

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Wealth distribution video screenshotThe Council will soon receive a recommendation from Mayor Murray to raise the minimum wage in Seattle. There is a growing consensus in our city and in civic discourse across the country that income and wealth inequality is one of the most pressing issues facing American society. (For quick visualizations of the issue, go to The New Yorker, The Economist, or this fascinating Youtube video.) Inequality and the resulting crisis of affordability are felt particularly strongly in urban areas.

A higher minimum wage is one tool that may help those at the bottom of the income scale and — in the absence of any action at the federal level — cities, counties and states across the country are considering raising their own minimum wage.

If you have been following the coverage about this, you may know that most of the debate has been about the details: What is the number? Is it phased-in over a certain period of time? Do we count just a basic wage or other forms of compensation too? How would the City enforce this?

The Council has been studying up on the issue and hearing from many different stakeholders in the community. If you have ten minutes, I encourage you to read this excellent review of current minimum wage laws and the policy questions facing the City in this debate prepared by Council staff.

To stay engaged with the Council as we move forward, you can sign up to receive emailed notifications of upcoming meetings of the Council’s Select Committee on Minimum Wage and Income Inequality.