Seattle’s minimum wage reaches $15 per hour for large employers

Seattle’s minimum wage increased to $15 per hour on January 1 for employees working for the largest businesses in the city.

Mayor Ed Murray marked the increase this week, which is a milestone for the 2014 minimum wage ordinance that called for a phased-in increase of the minimum wage for workers. The ordinance was the first of its kind for a major city to chart a course to a $15 minimum wage.

“Seattle workers are getting a well-deserved raise in 2017, when our minimum wage hit $15 for the first time,” said Mayor Murray. “Nearly three years on, our local economy is thriving and more cities, as well as the state of Washington, have begun following Seattle’s lead to create a more equitable economy.”

The wage increase will impact an estimated 70,000 low-wage workers in Seattle. A study by the University of Washington found that one year after implementation, Seattle’s economy continues to expand. Data from 2016 also shows that Seattle’s unemployment rate continues to fall and currently sits near its lowest level in years.

Changes to the minimum wage in 2017 include:

Large Employers (501 or more employees worldwide)

  • $15.00/hour: If the employer does NOT pay towards the individual employee’s medical benefits.
  • $13.50/hour: If the employer DOES pay towards the individual employee’s medical benefits. 

Small Employers (500 or fewer employees worldwide)

  • $13.00/hour: If the employer does NOT pay at least $2.00/hour towards the individual employee’s medical benefits and/or the employee does NOT earn at least $2.00/hour in tips.
  • $11.00/hour: If the employer DOES pay at least $2.00/hour towards the individual employee’s medical benefits and/or the employee DOES earn at least $2.00/hour in tips

“We want to ensure that all workers in Seattle earn a living wage. My staff have been fielding calls from Seattle businesses making sure they are ready for 2017, as well as calls from employees asking about their rights,” says Dylan Orr, Director of the Seattle Office of Labor Standards. “I encourage both workers and employers to call us at 206-684-4500 or email us at for answers to questions about the minimum wage and other labor standards laws.”

Seattle’s minimum wage will continue to increase each year on January 1 until reaching $15 per hour for all workers in 2021.

Once Seattle’s hourly minimum wage reaches $15, further percentage changes will be based on the rate of inflation as determined by the Consumer Price Index for the Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton area. For more details, see the Office of Labor Standards Minimum Wage website.

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