The city of Seattle just hiked its minimum wage to $15 an hour, the highest in the country.
The increase outstrips the minimum wage of the state of Washington, which already boasts the highest state rate in the country at $9.32 an hour, and is more than double the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour. The increase was passed unanimously by the city council and enthusiastically endorsed by the city’s mayor.
Up until this point, San Francisco’s minimum wage was the highest in the nation, at $10.74 an hour. But Seattle’s action has caused officials in San Francisco and other cities to call for matching that rate.
The legislation does not mandate the increase take effect right away and lays out a different timetable for small and large employers. Small employers (fewer than 500 workers) must pay $10-an-hour wages on April 1, 2015, and reach $15 an hour by Jan. 1, 2021. Companies with 500 or more employees must reach $15 per hour in three years, though that can stretch to four years if the companies provide health care benefits. A full summary can be seen here.
In a statement, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray called the increase a “step we recommend to other cities around the country” that will strike a blow against “income inequality.”