Washington State Minimum Wage Hike Approved In General Election [Breaking]

Ryan DeVault

Washinton state minimum wage hikes have been approved by voters. Washington will now see the minimum wage increase over each of the next six years after an initiative was passed during the General Election. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the early election results reveal that nearly 60 percent of all Washington state voters wanted to approve Initiative Measure No. 1433 (I-1433). This is big news for workers making the minimum wage, as it guarantees a pay raise coming on January 1, 2017.

As explained in the writing of I-1433, the Washington state minimum wage increase will be to $11.00 per hour almost immediately. The current minimum wage in the state is $9.47 per hour, making this a huge increase for hourly employees. The rate will also continue to increase over the next six years, giving a steady raise for hourly employees who are currently making minimum wage.

In addition to the minimum wage hike, I-1433 will require employers to provide all employees with paid sick leave to care for their health and their families. This is big news within the state, as it gives employees in Washington state rights that aren't afforded by many other states. There are likely to be laws written in accordance with this new policy, as the paid sick leave may be difficult to pay for in some businesses.

Prior to the General Election, ballot information was released in support and opposition to Initiative Measure No. 1433. Those in support stated that this would increase the income of more than 730,000 workers, that it would put $2.5 billion into local economies, that it would decrease the spread of disease in the workplace, and that parents would be able to take care of sick children without worrying about lost income.

There were also arguments made by opponents who felt that I-1433 would negatively impact the state. The opposition argument stated that it does not take into account different costs of living across the state, that it would become harder for young people to find jobs, that the measure would be unaffordable for small businesses, and that passing the initiative would increase costs for consumers.

The immediate difference will be seen in what the Washington state minimum wage will be for the 2017 fiscal year. Under the current law, an increase to $9.55 was set to take place on January 1. Instead, it will go up by an additional $1.45 and pay hourly employees a rate of $11.00. It will go up in each successive year, with inflation covering the 2021 and 2022 years in this policy.

The minimum wage rate of $14.23 in 2022 would be $3.40 higher than the expected rate of $10.83 under current state law. That is a huge increase for hourly employees, likely making those positions more enticing to workers starting out in the job market.

The component of the initiative that deals with paid sick leave will go into place for 2018. As it is written, employees will receive (at minimum) one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Those employees will be permitted to earn at least 40 hours of sick leave per year and that using it would be allowed 90 days after beginning that particular job. Employers are also given the right to require verification of employee leave if it covers more than three consecutive days.

Proponents for a Washington state minimum wage increase were extremely successful in finding support for this measure. While votes in the General Election are still being counted, at last report, it had passed by almost 400,000 votes. While many employers stated that this would be difficult for smaller businesses, employees are viewing the wage increase and paid sick leave as something that needed to already be in place.

Washington State Minimum Wage Increases

2017 - $11.00 2018 - $11.50 2019 - $12.00 2020 - $13.50 2021 - $13.86 2022 - $14.23

[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]