Home Forums Open forum $15/hr?

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    So what about this minimum wage hubbub, anyway?



    I do think the minimum wage should be raised but I haven’t heard any rationale of why it should be $15.00 It seems like somebody randomly said that figure and it became the rallying point. I think that $12.00 sounds reasonable to me but I have no factual knowledge to base that on either. I do think that we should be talking the federal minimum wage not localities to prevent states from holding wages artificially low to attract industry.



    I, too, am all for making sure folks have a living wage.


    I have heard that we have one of the highest minimum wages already. I have also heard we have one of the highest rates of rent increases in the country. So I’m having trouble understanding how raising the wage further will make housing more affordable. Won’t that just send our rent increase rate even higher?

    Also, I have concerns about not having the $15 minimum wage include total compensation. Setting aside that tips are sometimes inconsistent (that’s why God gave us averages), if this is all about raising up the working poor, why are we also giving a raise to people that are doing OK? I mean, that’s nice and all, but it seems off point. If we leave the people alone that are doing OK with their tips, doesn’t that leave more money on the table for the folks that really need the raise?

    I have a fear, too, that people will get the raise, but at the expense of losing benefits as small businesses try to balance the books. I would hate for someone to get an extra (say) $300/month but then have to pay more than that to replace their health care that is no longer provided to them.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I hope that’s not the road we’re going down.



    GAM, couldn’t agree more. I’m of two minds on this. Here I am, an owner of two small businesses with a total of 11 employees between them. I hire at $1 above minimum wage, and everybody in both businesses is currently making between $16 and $25/hr (no hires in the last 18 months). I also pay after 90 days into a portion of a health plan, and I provide 2 weeks paid time off per year, nobody works Sunday, always 2 days off in a row, and I could go on. So I think I make a pretty good employer. I credit the extremely low turnover to paying my employees a fair wage, and being good to them. Along comes the $15 minimum wage, so if it comes to pass, I’ll likely have to shift up the pay scale or risk losing the low end of my pay scale as an effective draw for coming to work for me — no matter how I would like to think employees are motivated by the fun/challenging work environment and camaraderie, I’m pretty sure they like the green. Shifting the scale up is very hard on me, squeezing my net very hard. On the other hand, minimum wage.is.NOT.enough.to.live.on.


    Life is amazing

    Shelley, jeez, your making me want to work for you.
    As far as the 15 – I’ve heard, although i havent researched it myself, that it may end up bumping folks into another tax bracket, anyone else hear that?



    Whatever the minimum wage ends up being set at, it would be great to have a separate youth or training wage for junior/senior high school age children. Of course, it would need limits on the number of hours per day and other safeguards, but I think it’s really valuable for teenagers to get a bit of real-world work experience. I had a paper route in junior high and part-time and summer jobs in high school, which taught me a lot. I’ve heard that current regulations make it difficult to hire a kid part-time, especially if they’re under 16.

    GAM – although our rents have been going up significantly in Seattle, apparently we’re one of the metro areas with the lowest rate of rent increases. Maybe all this talk about hipsters abandoning the suburbs and secondary cities for the urban core is true and the cheap rents are now in the burbs and places like Everett, instead of in Seattle.



    $15 is the figure because it is a livable wage. That means what it would cost a single person to live in Seattle.

    Life you would work for $16 to $25 an hour with only 2 weeks off? geeeez

    If a business can’t afford a livable wage they should not be in business.

    Seattle rents have increased for years. Rent control is next of course.

    Funny how back when min wage was a livable wage, (1960s) we had a better economy.



    So how is “a livable wage” defined? Able to afford a percentage of median rent? Rolling back to what it was in 19xx? Heck, once someone is able to define it, we may find $15/hr isn’t livable either. Then what?

    Briar, it is easy to say that businesses that can’t afford it shouldn’t be in business. There is some truth to that. But if we put the raise in place and blow away a sizable portion of local small businesses, that void will be filled mostly by non-local big businesses, who will be quick to seize the opportunity. Rather than recklessly blow them away, we should be very, very sure this will truly work, and then work to preserve those businesses in the new system.

    Yes, rents have been increasing for years. The nuance is that the rate they are increasing at is increasing. Or not, I guess, per Mondo. So there’s something else that needs to be understood before we do anything rash.

    You are correct to note the economy was stronger when the minimum wage was (closer to) livable. Now, with businesses still recovering from a massive recession, the pressure on them will be much greater. Was the economy stronger because we had a more livable minimum wage? Or were we able to support the wage better because the economy was better than it is now?

    So much nuance to get lost in sound bites and rhetoric!



    Livable wage is a calculation using cost of living data. You should be able to find many calculators all ver the internet.

    Thing is gam that the same argument for lost jobs has been used every time the min wage has been raised and it has never once happened. In fact WA with its high min wage has added MORE low wage jobs than almost any other state since the wage was raised.
    If you REALLY think that the economy creates low wagers all you need to do is look at the state that have the lowest wages and compare their economy to ours.

    Our economy is suffering due to many factors and low wages in a major one. Compare this technology revolution the industrial revolution and you can see the issues and also the resolutions. Basically, unless we all benefit by innovation it causes more problems than it solves. If we do not address inequality we are facing another Golden age of Robber Barons and tenement dwellers. That in turn brought terrible hardship and social unrest. It caused starvation, dislocation, revolutions, a mass worldwide migration and numerous wars. Just for once can’t we TRY to do things in an easier more sensible manner?



    If we do not address inequality we are facing another Golden age of Robber Barons and tenement dwellers. That in turn brought terrible hardship and social unrest. It caused starvation, dislocation, revolutions, a mass worldwide migration and numerous wars. Just for once can’t we TRY to do things in an easier more sensible manner?




    Why is raising the minimum wage gradually not on the table?

    To me that solves both of my major concerns:

    1. Businesses will make up the difference by cutting workers or increasing the cost to consumers.

    2. Jumping the minimum wage from $9 to $15 would be unfair to the large number of people who have worked their way from $9/hr to $15/hr by being hard working. If the entry level burger flipper gets $15/hr, shouldn’t their supervisor make more than that? People I know who I’d consider lazy have been able to make it up the ladder in retail and fast food jobs just by showing up and not stealing anything. The bar is so low. We should really look at why someone can’t get promoted out of a minimum wage job.



    I think that including some kind of tip averaging and lower minimums for <18 year old workers (as are in the current min wage rules) would be reasonable, as would a longer phase-in period for small businesses. It would take some careful rule-writing to keep the Shelleys of the business world in the phase-in period and the McDonald’s out, but I’m sure it can be done.

    There are basically two ways that businesses will cope with minimum wage increases. They will either make up the difference in volume or in somewhat increased prices. Since labor is only a fraction of total costs, prices don’t have to go up nearly as much as the increase in the min wage. With more people with more money, most businesses will sell more (see Henry Ford). Most businesses will do a combination of the two approaches.

    Going down to Sea-Tac, the hotel owner that was whining up and down during the campaign that he would have to close up or make major adjustments if the min wage passed there is now expanding the hotel and will expand the workforce when it’s complete. Last time I parked at an airport lot, I had a $5 “living wage fee” tacked on to the $60 tab. I can live with that.

    The notion that higher pay or benefits kills jobs is wrong. Compared to the rest of WA, Seattle has the sick leave law and has better economic growth and lower employment. There was a study a few months ago about job changes in border counties between states with different minimum wages. They found no net change in retail or restaurant jobs. One of the people they interviewed was a guy who had a McDonald’s on the WA side of the street that is the border between WA and ID. When he expanded the restaurant a few years ago, he didn’t even think about moving across the border. If he had tried to pay ID minimum wages, he wouldn’t have had any workers, since they would have just driven past him into WA. Anecdotal evidence in that case was that the WA minimum wage went about half an hour’s drive into ID.



    Actually, a phase-in period for everyone makes a lot of sense. Maybe slightly longer for small biz. Many people (including some of the editorial staff at the Stranger) argue that a phase-in is needed. It should be on the table, and hopefully will once the actual legislation comes out. I hope that the $15 Now people will support passage of a $15 in a year or two bill and won’t try to stop it because it doesn’t meet all of their demands. I can see keeping the pressure on now until legislation is on the table.



    God grief plastic! People should live in poverty so others won’t feel bad?



    Thank you BriarRose,Boatgeek for your thoughtful sensible words.



    However, one thing is troubling me, making working difficult. We cannot begin to discriminate against younger workers.



    Small business support an increase. The real power against it is corporate chain types.


    Small business knows their customer base. Corporations know they might make only 56 billion instead of 57 billion.

    I agree that a kid should be paid the same if he is doing the same job as someone over 18.



    I think that most people posting here don’t remember what it was like to work for minimum wage, probably because you did it when you lived at home/were in college. Actually, I think that most people who post here don’t have a clue about earning minimum wage. Therefore, you probably don’t know how it is to try and run a household at that wage. You cannot live on a minimum wage here. It is impossible, unless you choose not to eat. Even if you are single.



    Fortunately, questioning whether raising the wage will do the good it promises is not the same as being opposed to the idea. There is a tendency to paint anyone who questions whether it will work as trying to undermine living wages. In my case, at least, my fear is it could make things worse.



    It’s my understanding that all the studies people have referred to that show little to no loss in jobs with increased minimum wage are for smaller differentials in wage on the order of 10%. For me personally, a 10% difference in price is something I notice but that doesn’t often change my purchasing decision. A 50% increase sure gets my attention, though, and makes me think long and hard.

    Similarly, if a $15 minimum wage really has no effect, what about a $100 minimum wage? I’d think most would agree that would result in lost jobs, so the real question is where exactly between today’s $10 and a sky-high $100 would you start losing lots of jobs. I don’t know the answer to that — wouldn’t it be a good thing to try and figure that out? It would have been nice to wait six months and see what happens in SeaTac before rushing ahead in Seattle.

    Another problem with most of the comparisons I’ve seen is that they’re apples vs oranges (e.g. city X has a lower minimum wage but Seattle has more jobs). There are of course many possible reasons why Seattle has more jobs, not to mention that Seattle might have even more jobs if it had a lower minimum wage (or it might not).



    That’s the point gam. All the fear mongering is just that. This is nothing new and has been dragged out everytime we raise the minimum wage. None of the bad stuff ever happens and it has never made anything worse. In fact last time it seems to have made things better in Seattle with an increase in jobs higher than in other states.

    I am not a wealthy person. I make almost exactly the median wage in this city. I am more than willing to pay 50 cents more for a burger or a few dollars more for a dinner so that other people can have better lives.

    This time it is even more important and will make a much bigger difference than in the past. Face reality folks this is a service economy and that is not going to change. Basically everyone is doing laundry for everyone else. In Seattle they are making lattes for everyone else. We have MBAs steaming milk. We don’t need anymore attorneys or software writers or engineers etc etc etc. Even civil service jobs like mine are drying up. Since the 80s the majority of jobs created have been service jobs. If we don’t pay more for the jobs we do have everything explodes.

    We are being asked to fund our own retirement but no one has anything to save. SS and Medicare WILL be cut. Low wage jobs pay no taxes so the situation just gets worse and worse and more and more cuts will come. It is not unlikely that conservative politics will have a few years in charge ahead so don’t expect to get anything from the wealthy. To be fair its best not to expect too much from the liberals either.

    I have been watching the outrage over the evictions at Lock Haven. No one is going to stop that folks. It’s called capitalism and this country embraces that. The problem is that capitalism fails if wages do not equal production. They have not for over 30 years. That’s why we have recession after recession and recoveries that leave more and more behind.

    The result will not be pretty. Why not fix this an easier way?

    Mondo staff is not the entire cost for small business. It’s only a small part thus no one will need to raise prices at the same rate as wages are increased. an increase in goods will not harm me as a median wage earner and not harm those who make wealthier than I am. Are you not willing to pay anything so others can eat?

    The $100 BS is just that. Why increase more than the median wage? $15 will not even equal the median wage so really it is hyperbole. “Might” have is just stupid. better to look at what has actually happened.



    BTW I have no idea where mondo got his stats for rent increases but the Times does not agree.


    Seattle liberals are very greedy.



    The Bloomberg Visual Data site will let you all fuel your sides of the arguments:

    It is interesting on how each state is doing in each ranking

    Make sure you chose the correct year



    According to Pew Research (pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/12/04/5-facts-about-the-minimum-wage/), federal minimum wage topped out in 1968 at $8.25, expressed in 2012 $s. 45 years, that’s a couple of generations. While it’s always difficult to estimate the buying power of a sawbuck over the years, IMHO, it’s still a sobering stat. From this perspective, $15 doesn’t seem so, to quote some of the detractors of the raise proposals, “ruinous” and “outrageous.”



    Jonathan, BR, RichY, Thank you for the links and all for the thoughtful discussion. I remain convinced that this should be a federal issue not a state or local issue. However, I do also see the need for locales to take action before Congress will have the will to take action.

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