Liam Collinane cheers during a Seattle City Council meeting before the council's vote on raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour in Seattle, Washington on June 2, 2014.
David Ryder/Reuters

Seattle hikes wages to highest minimum in the country


Seattle approved the highest minimum wage in the country by a unanimous vote on Monday; Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is expected the sign the bill, which he championed, on Tuesday.

Washington state already has the nation’s highest state-wide minimum wage—$9.32 an hour—but the new law will hike minimum wage jobs within the city limits up more than five dollars to $15 an hour.

The increase will take place over several years and take into account the size and benefits offered by an employer; it will hit large businesses in three years and then all businesses by 2021.

Three states have raised their minimum wage this year to the number being championed by the Democrats nationwide, $10.10 an hour; thirteen states approved minimum wage hikes in 2013 as well.

Seattle’s hike, which is expected to affect 100,000 workers, goes farther than many other cities nationwide.

On Monday, New Mexico’s Las Cruces approved a minimum wage hike to $8.50 an hour. 

In New York City, city lawmakers are considering hiking minimum wage to $15 an hour for businesses with yearly sales of $50 million or more. It will be a tough battle for a city with a strong business lobby: just three years ago, when the minimum wage was just $7.25 an hour, a heated lobbying battle chipped away at Democrats efforts to pass a “living wage” bill in the city at wages as high as $20 an hour. By the time the bill passed, it was estimated to only affect 600 workers of the city’s minimum wage workers, hiking their wages to $10 or $11.50 an hour depending on benefits.

Seattle’s first incremental hike will hit next April, bringing the wage to $10 and $11 dollars an hour for various businesses.