Advocates of increasing the minimum wage routinely claim that doing so will stimulate the economy, encourage growth and create jobs. Ignoring the basic economic law of demand, which dictates that when the cost of something goes up, demand correspondingly goes down, these supporters instead argue that when workers earn more money they spend more money, which in turn benefits employers. Everyone wins.
Of course, the only ones who really win are the workers who have a job; those who don’t will have a harder time finding one.
During this Legislative Session, lawmakers in the House of Representatives considered two bills that would require employers to offer paid leave to workers.
HB 1313 would require employers with 5 or more employees to pay employees for 5, 7 or 9 days of sick leave per year, depending on the size of the company. This bill passed the House and will now be considered by the Senate.
On Wednesday I testified on two bills that would help alleviate our state’s high teen unemployment rate. SB 6495 and SB 6471 would extend the current law that allows businesses to pay 14-15 year old workers a sub-minimum wage, to 16-19 year olds.
Yesterday Washington Policy Center was invited to participate in a press conference at the Capitol highlighting the “Jobs Now” package of bills introduced in the House and Senate that would improve the state’s small business climate. Many of the bills highlighted in the press conference reflect long-standing WPC recommendations.
Yesterday supporters of a $15 minimum wage used the observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day to rally their cause in Seattle. The chairman of Seattle’s MLK Celebration Committee, Seattle City Councilmember Larry Gossett, endorsed the hijacking of the MLK celebration event to promote a $15 minimum wage, speculating, “He [Martin Luther King Jr.] would fight for this…why wouldn’t he?”
Last month Governor Inslee said it was time for Washington to “have a conversation” about increasing our state’s minimum wage, already the highest of any state in the nation. At the time the Governor did not specify what the higher minimum wage should be, only that the current wage of $9.32 is not enough.
Reducing the state’s regulatory burden has long been a top priority for the business community. Businesses large and small have, for decades, complained our state’s layers of complex regulations are confusing, disjointed, contradictory and often impossible to fully comply with. The call has repeatedly been to reform our state’s regulatory system in order to make Washington a more competitive state to do business.
The state Employment Security Department’s (ESD) most recent report on job vacancies and new hiring showed a welcome increase in hiring in 2013. An official with ESD said, “the employment picture in early 2013 was the strongest and most optimistic we’ve seen in several years.”
On the heels of a new law requiring some employers in the City of SeaTac to pay a $15 per hour minimum wage and Seattle giving every indication a similar wage will be mandated in that city, the Governor has signaled his support for increasing the state’s minimum wage.
Despite Seattle mayor-elect Ed Murray’s hope that a $15 minimum wage would be decided by the Seattle City Council and not by voters, an initiative was filed today with the City of Seattle Clerk’s Office to establish new minimum wage rates. In a twist, the initiative also would also lower the City’s Square Footage Business Tax and Business & Occupation Tax on employers.
Last week representatives of the business community received a copy of the Department of Labor & Industries’ (L&I) snapshot comparison of workers’ compensation benefits and employer costs in Washington and five other aerospace states. The L&I chart was presented in a legislative task force meeting on Boeing’s 777x.
Yesterday the House Labor & Workforce Development Committee held a work session on our state’s workers’ compensation program. Department of Labor & Industries’ (L&I) Director Joel Sacks gave an overview and update of the state-run monopoly system, explaining to lawmakers the current financial state of the system, how the reforms passed in 2011 are