McDonald's cashier and Eastern Washington University student Kierra Fitzpatrick
Starting Jan. 1, the minimum wage in Washington — already the nation's highest — will rise 15 cents to $9.47 an hour, the Department of Labor and Industries announced
Thanks to Initiative 688, passed by voters in 1998, the DOL is required
to calculate the minimum wage every year on Sept. 30 to keep up with the rising rate of inflation. The new minimum wage is adjusted using the Consumer Price Index
for urban wage earners and clerical workers — a measure that tracks the average change in prices of more than 200 types of goods and services paid for by low-wage households.
Still, living-wage advocates argue that even $9.47 an hour isn't enough for low-income families trying to get by. According to a study
released last month by the Alliance for a Just Society
, single adults in Washington must make $15.99 an hour in order to meet their basic needs, pay taxes and save 10 percent of their incomes in case of emergencies. In Spokane County alone, the living wage is $14.20 an hour, the study says.
"For us, a living wage really is not just surviving," says Allyson Fredericksen, a policy associate at the Alliance for a Just Society. "It's having that ability to feel stable and not have to worry every month where that money is coming from."
The DOL says the increased minimum wage will impact more than 67,000 workers across the state, who will take home an additional $312 a year.