Minimum wage has been a hot button issue in 2013, with several states across the country raising their minimum wage amounts and Washington, D.C. lawmakers trying to do so on the federal level. Fast food workers in particular have been walking off the job, demanding a wage increase to $15.00 per hour. Corporate giants such as Wal-Mart and McDonald’s have drawn attention to the discrepancy between minimum wage and a living wage. Many conservative politicians and corporate executives have argued that raising the minimum wage will cause widespread layoffs and/or price increases, which will actually make low-wage workers’ lives more difficult. However, some companies who have voluntarily increased wages claim that paying employees a higher wage actually improves business.
SeaTac Substantially Raises Minimum Wage
SeaTac, Washington is a small city that surrounds the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. On November 5, 2013, a measure to increase minimum wage in the city limits from the statewide minimum wage of $9.19 per hour (which will increase to $9.32 as of January 1st) to $15.00 per hour. The measure passed by only 77 out of over 6,000 votes, and recently survived a recount finalizing the law passage. Opponents of the law stated the SeaTac community would lose jobs, pay higher prices, and suffer because of the wage increase.
However, some business owners in the area have stated that neither jobs nor prices will drastically change due to the higher minimum wage. Many companies cannot afford to cut staff and still run their businesses in an efficient manner, so layoffs are not necessarily a realistic concern. Furthermore, if smaller companies raise prices, they will no longer be able to compete with larger discount corporations, so the fear of steeply increasing prices may be unfounded, as well.
On the other hand, proponents of the minimum wage increase state that raising wages makes for happier, less stressed employees who work harder, provide better customer service, and have higher job satisfaction. This also decreases employee turnover, which in turn decreases costs for recruiting, hiring, and training. Therefore, all of these savings may actually save business owners money in the long run, despite having to pay an extra $5.00 per hour to every employee.
The minimum wage increase in SeaTac must still overcome some challenges, as Alaska Airlines and the Washington Restaurant Association have taken the issue to court claiming the measure should not apply to airport businesses. However, there is little doubt that many eye will be on the effects of the new law in SeaTac to see how businesses react to the higher minimum wage and to help decide whether such an increase is plausible nationwide.
If you have any concerns regarding minimum wage or other wage and hour issues, the experienced attorneys at HKM can help you today.