Seattle's rising labor cost leads other cities to try to attract Seattle workers and businesses

June 17, 2014

When the Seattle City Council joyfully voted to increase the mandatory minimum wage (the city's price control on labor) to $15 an hour, it didn't take long for leaders in other cities to spot an opportunity.  Editors at the Tri-City Herald say they have one word for Seattle businesses: “Welcome.”  They even provide a confidential phone number. With brazen impertinence, they’re cooing...

“Why not bring your business here?

“The east side of the state has lots of clean energy, an above average number of skilled and experienced workers in a variety of disciplines, growing industrial areas and business parks and an excellent transportation hub. And we have lots of sunshine.

“Seattle's cost of living index is 119.1 percent of the national average; the Tri-Cities is 95.8 percent.  Every business on the west side worried about the new minimum wage should seriously consider relocating to the Tri-Cities.

“For confidential and professional information about growing or expanding your business to the Tri-Cities, Tri-City Development Council President Carl Adrian can be reached at 509-735-1000.”

Seattle’s fast-rising cost of living, with the price of everything from burgers to child care going up, is inducing many middle- and lower-income working families to leave the city.  This is especially true for families with an unemployed youth or that need to add a second income.

As better prices and entry-level jobs shift to other cities, it makes sense that younger families would follow.

It will soon be illegal in Seattle to accept a job for $14.99 an hour, but employers in other parts of the state offer good starter jobs that provide young workers near-term income and long-term experience, allowing them to increase their earnings in the future.  Seattle’s labor price control of $15 saws off the lower rungs of the jobs ladder, leaving unemployed youth and less experienced workers stranded.

It’s not just Seattle business owners that may be lured away by better economic conditions in other cities, many of Seattle’s unemployed may find that a change of residence is a smart move for them too.