Minimum wage goes up for unincorporated King County. Here’s what co-sponsoring Councilmember Mosqueda says about it

County Councilmembers have approved a new, higher minimum wage for North Highline and other unincorporated areas of the county. Our area’s Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda co-sponsored it – here’s how she announced it in her newsletter tonight:

Today, the King County Council passed a new minimum wage for the unincorporated areas of the County. This new law, which I was proud to co-sponsor, will help bring unincorporated areas of the County, like White Center, Vashon Island, Skyway and more, in line with the many and growing jurisdictions in this county that have a higher minimum wage than the state minimum. Thanks to Councilmember Zahilay who was the prime sponsor, Committee Chair Rod Dembowski who also sponsored the legislation, and their teams for leading the effort on this bill with community.

Starting on January 1, 2025, the minimum wage for businesses with 500 or more employees will start at $20.29 and increase with inflation annually starting in 2026. There is a phase in for smaller businesses: Employers with 15 or fewer employees with an annual gross revenue of less than $2 million will have an hourly minimum wage rate of $3.00 less ($17.29). The reduction would decrease annually by $0.50 until no reduction is remaining in 2030. Employers with more than 15 employees but fewer than 500 employees would have an hourly minimum wage rate of $2.00 less ($18.29). The reduction would decrease annually by $1.00 until no reduction is remaining in 2026.

Coming from the labor movement, lifting up the voices of workers, community and small businesses to raise the wage for low wage workers in Washington State and at the local level, I know it works. When low wage workers get a raise they spend that money putting it back into their local economy. One Seattle Times article literally said: “the sky is not falling from Seattle’s minimum-wage hike”. Eight years ago, I helped lead the statewide minimum wage and sick leave initiative 1433, because reports showed the minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living – especially in this region. Study after study have shown that raising the minimum wage spurs economic growth by putting more money in our local economies – and that’s actually good for business. This is why I joined with my colleagues on the council to bring in worker advocates, small businesses and other stakeholders to craft policy raising the wage for our unincorporated areas.

With outreach and engagement done by our office, we’ve heard from workers and small businesses across District 8 that they support the new minimum wage. Many small businesses in the district are already paying wages above what the new minimum will be because they believe in paying a living wage and want to recruit and retain workers. One of the best ways to do that is to make sure workers can afford to live near their places of employment. A 2 bedroom apartment in White Center on average goes for nearly $2,000 a month, which would take up to 70% of your income before taxes if you made only the state’s minimum wage. As we work on scaling up housing and affordable units, one job really should be enough to make ends meet. I am proud to have voted yes to raise the wage for workers in District 8 and will continue to support additional strategies to grow small business, invest in equitable development, increase housing stock, and build more affordable units around our region. Raising the minimum wage is just one part of the effort to create a more equitable economy.

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