Yesterday, the Senate held a hearing on three important
bills that would provide greater economic security for workers, children, and families
throughout Washington state – HB 1355 would raise the minimum wage to $12, HB
1356 would provide paid sick and safe leave to all employees, and HB 1646 would
support pay equity for women.
Research and Policy Director Lori Pfingst provided
testimony in support of all three bills, and specifically focused on the
benefits of raising the minimum wage:
boost our economy by providing
$1 billion more in earnings annually for over 550,000 low-wage workers across the state,
which would immediately be spent in local economies;
- It would
help us build an economy that works for everyone by: helping to reduce
income inequality, reversing a decades-long trend in stagnant wages for low-income
workers, and bringing greater equity into the labor market for women and people
of color, who are more likely to be in minimum wage occupations; and
advance family economic security by
helping more Washingtonians meet their basic needs.
We recently released a report, The Progress Index, which tells a comprehensive story of how Washington state is doing in critical
areas of well-being. The section of the Progress Index focused on good jobs shows that, in spite of strong
economic growth over the last 35 years, low- and middle-income workers have
experienced stagnant wages and have fewer opportunities for full-time work. It
further shows that many workers – especially those working part-time – lack
benefits like health insurance and paid sick leave (see table). These types of
benefits are essential to the economic security of individuals and families.
Raising the minimum wage, especially in combination with implementing
pay equity for women and paid sick and safe leave, would be a significant step
in advancing family economic security and equity in Washington state.
Join our research and policy team for our Budget Beat call on Friday, April 3, at noon to hear the fate of these important
bills, along with other legislative highlights from this session.
Read this Spokesman-Review article that quotes Lori Pfingst and a high-profile Seattle business-owner who supports raising the minimum wage, Molly Moon Neitzel.