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Study: Seattle's $15 minimum wage did benefit workers

10/25/2018

Study: Seattle's $15 minimum wage did benefit workers

With a number of cities and states having signed off on a $15 minimum wage, many parts of the country are now looking for an example. Seattle is one of the few cities to not only pass but fully institute such a minimum, and a new study shows that there can be some serious benefits for workers, despite the skepticism that higher wages actually cost people jobs.

A joint study from the University of Washington, New York University, and Amazon found that the $15 minimum wage in Seattle led to low-paid employees taking on fewer hours but earning more money, according to Quartz. However, it's worth noting that the people most likely to see such benefits were those who already had jobs in their chosen fields, and were more experienced than others.

At the same time, less experienced workers found a slightly more difficult barrier to entry in certain industries over the time since the $15 minimum wage was instituted, the report said. Moreover, the researchers cautioned that the conditions in the King City may not apply to every area where a higher minimum is being considered, because Seattle has seen economic gains above and beyond the national levels of improvement witnessed over the past five years.

Taking the example
One place where it's generally recognized that a higher minimum wage would be a good idea is Florida, according to the Miami Herald. While the Sunshine State has a minimum of $8.25 per hour - a dollar more than the national minimum - experts and political insiders generally agree that more needs to be done for low-wage workers. However, there is a big divide between what many observers consider a reasonable increase. For instance, among a group of "influencers" with expertise in politics and policy, 43 percent support a minimum wage of $15, while 28 percent oppose it, and the remaining 30 percent aren't sure if it's the answer.

"While raising the minimum wage may have a short-term cost to the economy, the benefit for so many people in terms of dignity and quality of life greatly outweighs the small downside impact on the economy," Richard Fain, the chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, told the newspaper.

While there is no clear path to a $15 minimum wage in Florida right now, one prominent Orlando attorney has already talked about an effort to get it on the ballot by 2020, the report said.

A smaller increase
In the meantime, low-paid workers in the Sunshine State can expect growth in in 2019, thanks to the decision years ago to index the minimum to the Consumer Price Index, according to Orlando Weekly. As such, the minimum will rise by 21 cents per hour to $8.46 for hourly workers and $5.44 for tipped employees, resulting in a pay increase of $437 over the course of the year. However, that still leaves minimum-wage workers below the poverty line for families of four.

With this in mind, individual businesses need to do more to make sure their employees are well-compensated and receive excellent benefits, especially as the economy improves. When business is booming, competition for workers increases, leading to more turnover for companies that don't extend their workers high-end offerings.

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