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News / Northwest

Seattle’s minimum wage, raised again, among highest in nation

By Lauren Girgis, The Seattle Times
Published: January 4, 2024, 5:18pm

SEATTLE — Seattle minimum-wage earners will now be paid about $20 an hour, topping every other major city in the nation.

As of Jan. 1, large employers in Seattle, defined as having at least 501 employees, must pay $19.97 per hour.

Small employers with 500 or fewer employees can pay $17.25 an hour if they also pay $2.72 an hour toward medical benefits or the employee earns at least $2.72 an hour in tips.

Since Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance went into effect in 2015, increases take place every year on Jan. 1 to reflect the rate of inflation.

At $19.97 an hour, a minimum-wage employee in Seattle who works full-time would earn around $40,000.

About 10 miles south, Tukwila now boasts the highest minimum wage of any city in the country, at $20.29 for large employers. Midsize employers, which the city defines as having at least 15 but no more than 500 employees worldwide or over $2 million of annual gross revenue in Tukwila, must pay their employees at least $18.29 an hour.

Just across I-5, hospitality and transportation workers in SeaTac now make at least $19.71 an hour.

Washington state’s minimum wage also went up this month by 54 cents, to $16.28 an hour. That beats California’s $16 an hour but is still lower than the District of Columbia’s $17 per hour.

The federal minimum hourly wage, unchanged since 2009, remains $7.25.

Five states have not adopted a state minimum wage: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee. Two states, Georgia and Wyoming, have a minimum wage below $7.25 per hour. Thirteen total U.S. states still have a minimum wage set at $7.25 per hour.

In Georgia, employees covered under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act are subject to the federal minimum wage of $7.25, but those not covered may be paid as little as $5.15.

Washington state’s minimum wage of $16.28 applies to workers age 16 and older. For workers ages 14 and 15, employers can pay 85% of the state minimum wage, which will be $13.84 per hour in 2024.

Employers or workers can find more information on wage laws and make complaints on the L&I website at lni.wa.gov or by calling 360-902-5316 or 1-866-219-7321.