Seattle’s groundbreaking minimum wage hike hurt the low-income people that it was meant to help, according to a report prepared for the city council.
Seattle became one of the largest cities to embrace the $15 minimum wage—double the federal minimum of $7.25—in 2014, adopting an ordinance that would achieve the hike by 2017 for major employers and 2019 for small businesses. The new base rate pleased labor activists and the politically powerful Service Employees International Union, but it has dealt a blow to the take-home pay of workers even before the hike has been completed.
Researchers from the University of Washington found that low-income workers saw their pay fall drastically when the city moved to the $13 mark in 2015. Companies reduced the number of hours that employees worked to cope with the increased labor costs.
“The lost income associated with the hours reductions exceeds the gain [in hourly rates],” the reportsays. “The average low-wage employee was paid $1,897 per month. The reduction in hours would cost the average employee $179 per month, while the wage increase would recoup only $54 of this loss, leaving a net loss of $125 per month (6.6%), which is sizable for a low-wage worker.”
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