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Weakening the Minimum Wage Not Good for Economy or Workers

Posted by Lori Pfingst at Jan 31, 2013 07:40 PM |
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The proposed “training wage” that would lower the minimum wage for new workers would undermine economic security for Washingtonians and weaken our economy.

Under  proposals being considered by the Legislature, House Bill 1150 and Senate Bill 5275, new workers could be paid less than the minimum wage ($6.89 per hour instead of $9.19 per hour), for up to 680 hours of work.  

Protections for workers, such as the minimum wage, support a strong middle class. Lowering it, particularly at a time when someone is entering or returning to the workforce, would mean individuals and families would not be able to meet basic monthly needs as determined by the state (see graph). A person  working 40 hours per week, for example, could only cover 92 percent of basic needs like food and shelter, and a family of four would be able to meet just half (50 percent) of their basic needs.

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Paying workers less than what they need to cover basic needs hurts family economic security and independence, potentially leading to more need for support services like Basic Food and WorkFirst. A strong economy is dependent on the economic security of individuals and families.  In such a weak economy, lawmakers should be focused on supporting workers, not undermining them.
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Watch the Poverty Forum Video

If you missed the half-day Poverty Forum that we co-hosted with Partners for Our Children in May 2016, you can watch it on YouTube now. It features a range of speakers and panelists talking about policy solutions for addressing income inequality and poverty in our state.

Our Legislative Agenda

Our agenda for the 2015-2017 biennium calls for an equitable, sustainable revenue system in addition to state investments that: promote a world-class education system; sustain a strong middle class; produce living-wage jobs, and ensure that all Washingtonians have equal opportunity to get ahead. 

Testimonies in Olympia

We testified in support of a number of important bills during the 2016 legislative session. Take a look:

  • Our testimony (at the 23:23 minute mark) on the House Bill that would take a two-generation approach to preventing poverty 
  • Our testimony (at the 1:54:09 mark) on the House bill focused on aerospace-related tax breaks
  • Our House testimony (at the 9:25 mark) and Senate testimony (at the 1:44:54 mark) on the two-generation approach to poverty prevention bill 

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