Washington minimum wage to top $16 an hour next year

The current hourly rate of $15.74 is the highest of any state in the nation
October 7, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.

By Jerry Cornfield, Washington State Standard

Minimum wage workers in Washington will get a pay hike in January.

The state’s minimum wage will rise to $16.28 an hour starting Jan. 1, the Washington Department of Labor and Industries has announced.

That’s a 54-cent increase from the current hourly rate of $15.74, which is the highest of any state in the nation and more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Meanwhile, some salaried workers and rideshare drivers could see their earnings rise from other state-required adjustments.

With the minimum wage, state law requires Labor and Industries to adjust it annually for inflation. It does so by using the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. It compared the index for August this year and in 2022.

Washington’s minimum wage applies to workers age 16 and older. Employers can pay 85% of the rate to 14- and 15-year-old employees, under state law.

Cities can set minimum wages higher than the state. Seattle, SeaTac and Tukwila do.

Currently, Seattle’s is $18.69, SeaTac’s is $19.06, and Tukwila’s is $18.99, for most workers. Announcements of their respective 2024 rates are expected in the coming weeks.

In Bellingham, residents will vote on the November ballot to raise wages. If approved, Initiative 1 would raise the minimum wage by $1 over the state rate on May 1, 2024, and then boost the city’s minimum wage to $2 above the state’s minimum in May 2025. 

Also in January, more salaried employees will become eligible for overtime pay. Washington law sets minimum salary thresholds below which all workers must be paid time-and-a-half for overtime hours. 

Next year, to be exempt from overtime, an employee must earn the equivalent of two times the state minimum wage in a 40-hour work week. That’s $1,302 per week or $67,725 per year. This year the threshold is $57,293 for companies with 50 or fewer employees and $65,478 for firms with more than 50.

Drivers for transportation network companies like Lyft and Uber will get a pay bump beginning Jan. 1, too. Minimum pay for drivers is an element of state legislation passed in 2022.

For trips within Seattle in 2024, drivers will earn 66 cents per passenger platform minute and $1.55 per passenger platform mile, or $5.81, whichever is greater, Labor and Industries reported. 

For trips outside of Seattle, drivers will earn 38 cents per passenger platform minute and $1.31 per passenger platform mile, or $3.37, whichever is greater.

Washington State Standard is an independent, nonprofit news organization that produces original reporting on policy and politics.

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