King County Council votes to raise minimum wage to $20 an hour

Employees in unincorporated King County will soon see a substantial increase in their paychecks after a minimum wage increase to $20 an hour was approved on Tuesday.

The measure, passed by the King County Council, is set to enhance the earnings of workers in unincorporated areas, equipping them to better handle the increasing living expenses in the region. 

Keep reading to learn more about the new minimum wage, and when it will go into effect.

What is the new minimum wage rate in King County?

The new minimum wage will be $20.29 per hour, aligning with neighboring cities that have adopted higher wage standards in response to rising costs.

Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, the author of the legislation, emphasized the need for the increase.

"With the cost-of-living skyrocketing in King County, it's crucial that our region's workers have the means to survive," said Zahilay. "One job should be enough to cover basic needs like rent and groceries."

The ordinance, sponsored by Zahilay along with Councilmembers Rod Dembowski, Teresa Mosqueda, and Jorge L. Barón, aims to rectify wage disparities in places like Skyway, where the minimum wage is currently at Washington state's level of $16.28. At the same time, Tukwila's minimum wage stands at $20.29.

Dembowski pointed out the imbalance among working residents and the region's robust economic climate.

"This law extends a ladder of opportunity to tens of thousands of hardworking King County residents," he said, underlining the disparity of those left behind due to inadequate wages.

When will the new minimum wage in King County go into effect?

The change in the wage structure will take place on Jan. 1, 2025, and will potentially be subject to future increases in line with inflation rates.

Mosqueda addressed the economic benefits of raising the wage floor, stating, "Raising the minimum wage is a proven strategy to put more money in our local economies."

She also highlighted the challenges workers face, such as affording housing and saving money, and expressed her pride in assisting workers in getting closer to a living wage.

What about small businesses in King County?

Small businesses are also considered under the new ordinance, with specific provisions made for those with limited revenue and employee count. 

Businesses with 15 or fewer employees with less than $2 million in annual gross revenue will have a minimum wage of $17.29. Those with a higher revenue or more employees will have their minimum wage set at $18.29, with these rates scheduled to gradually increase until the outlined reductions are eliminated by 2030 and 2026, respectively.


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