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SeaTac, WA, Businesses Stung by $15-an-Hour Pay

Wall Street Journal (12/11/13) Sarah E. Needleman; Daniel Lippman

The minimum wage in SeaTac, WA, will increase 63% to $15 per hour in January, making it the highest municipal minimum wage in the country. The wage only applies to hospitality and transportation workers, excluding employees of airlines, but local businesses worry that they cannot offer high enough wages to prevent their employees from leaving for hospitality or transportation jobs. Washington’s state minimum wage is $9.19 per hour, the highest state minimum wage in the country.

Businesses—particularly small businesses—in SeaTac are concerned about the massive increase in labor costs. Some economists say increasing the minimum wage causes small businesses to reduce their employees’ hours and scale back hiring; others counter that it increases employee retention and consumer spending. President Obama has announced his support for raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Fast food workers recently have been protesting in support of a $15-per-hour wage.