Washington State has had the highest minimum wage rate in the country, and will continue to as it was raised 13 cents at the start of 2014, from $9.19 to $9.32.
The Department of Labor and Industries considers changing the rate yearly to reflect inflation and cost-of-living adjustments, a decision that was voted into approval in 1998.
This state is one of only ten who adjust minimum wage to cost-of-living increases.
Washington’s minimum wage is the target of a country–wide debate about the issues of raising the rate or not, especially since minimum wage at the federal level is $7.25. The controversy has many sides and arguments, with some saying that raising it will reduce poverty, and others claiming the increases make it too expensive for employers to hire more workers.
“I think it’s great because people need to be paid more and can have more money to buy what they need and go to school. School is so expensive these days!” said Kathy Smith, a UWT Husky who supports the minimum wage raise.
Although she gets paid a little higher than minimum wage at her job and didn’t get a raise along with the New Year, she still believes that the more money people receive, the better off their lives and the society they live in will be.
Min Seong Park, a freshman, didn’t share the same opinion, saying, “I think it will hurt the economy and cause inflation. Inflation is the only conclusion, I would say, looking at history.” This not being his only concern, he mentioned that the raise might cause an influx of residents to the state, saying, “Other people from other states will want to come here to work.”
Jonathan Robinson is a minimum wage worker at an establishment near campus who said, “The more money, the better! If we need the money right now, any bit of a raise will help.”
A UWT campus employee who wishes to remain anonymous, and whose self-reported earnings are “well over minimum wage,” said that although he feels he is “bored” and his contribution in his department is underutilized “maybe 60 percent of the time,” when asked if he felt he was underpaid, he said, “Definitely! It’s not just employees who work minimum wage: I don’t see a raise every year. Even if it’s just 13 cents, that’s something.”
UWT’s campus has varied opinions about minimum wage, with some saying it’s better to have the extra bit of money now, and some disagreeing, thinking that it will have more costly consequences in the future.