Did you know?

The Patriot Post is funded 100% by its readers, avoiding the influence advertisers and special interest groups impose on other publications. Help us stay front and center in the fight for Liberty and support the 2020 Year-End Campaign.

James Shott / May 5, 2015

Washington State and Seattle Set the Nation's Highest Minimum Wage

Since 1998, Washington State has led the nation in both local and statewide minimum wage levels, which attracted the attention of Labor Secretary Tom Perez who praised the state for having “the highest minimum wage in the country for the last 15 years.” But the full picture is much less rosy than Secretary Perez would have us believe.

In an article on Forbes.com the Freedom Foundation’s Maxfeld Nelson put things in perspective. “Although the state’s overall job growth has remained strong since adoption of the high minimum wage, growth in industries with a prevalence of low-wage workers has slowed,” he reports. Citing Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau data he writes that while Washington State’s share of the nation’s population increased by 5.7 percent from 1998 to 2014, and its share of total U.S. jobs increased by 6.3 percent, the state’s share of U.S. hotel and restaurant jobs, which could have been expected to rise commensurately, fell by 5.7 percent. Those industries are where thousands of people the higher minimum wage was supposed to help were once employed.

In fact, while Washington’s teen unemployment rate had roughly paralleled national trends prior to the 1998 minimum wage hike, every year since then it has been substantially higher, and at one point reached 34 percent above the national rate.

Not content with the state’s $9.47 minimum wage, SeaTac, a small city that depends heavily on businesses benefitting from its airport, decided to raise its minimum to $15 an hour in a close vote in a 2013 election. “Although the narrow drafting of the ordinance and ongoing litigation have limited the law’s scope to a mere handful of businesses and employees,” Mr. Nelson writes, “it is still having consequences. A parking company has added a ‘living-wage surcharge’ to its rates. One hotel closed its restaurant and laid off 17 employees. Employees at another hotel reported losing an array of benefits, with one stating that the $15 minimum wage ‘sounds good, but it’s not good.’”

And now Seattle has hopped on board that bandwagon with a phased-in minimum wage, raising the minimum to $11 an hour April 1, and the rate hike will be fully implemented by 2025. Some businesses, however, are on a sped-up schedule, like Ritu Shah Burnham’s Z Pizza restaurant.

Even though she has only 12 employees, her business is classified as part of a “large business franchise,” putting her on the fast track to raising the minimum. “I’ve let one person go since April 1, I’ve cut hours since April 1. I’ve taken them myself because I don’t pay myself,” she told a local TV station. “I’ve also raised my prices a little bit; there’s no other way to do it.”

One of her employees was initially excited at the advertised benefits of getting a raise and having a better life. “If that’s the truth,” he told the TV outlet, “I don’t think that’s very apparent. People like me are finding themselves in a tougher situation than ever.” He will only get to enjoy the higher pay until August, when Ms. Burnham has determined she must close her business. “I have no idea where they’re going to find jobs, because if I’m cutting hours, I imagine everyone is across the board,” she said.

Jake Spear, the director of 15 Now Seattle, a wage hike advocate group, was unmoved at the plight of these 12 employees. It’s just one restaurant, after all. “Restaurants open and close all the time, for various reasons," he said.

Back during the flower child era of the 1960s and 70s, the operative slogan was, "If it feels good, do it!” That slogan has more recently been co-opted by pandering politicians, labor union leaders, and others more interested in the immediate rewards of increased numbers of fawning, adoring voters and thankful union members than with the reality of lost jobs, higher consumer prices, and struggling businesses. They have another favorite slogan, as well: “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”

The fallacy in the minimum wage debate is that so many people – liberal feel-gooders, people new to the workforce, people in the most basic jobs and/or with the lowest skill levels, along with pandering politicians and union bosses – don’t understand the significance of varying wage levels. It eludes them that wages must be earned, not merely given like a gift, and that higher wages require more training, knowledge, skill and experience from workers than lower wages do. There is more involved in earning a high wage than just getting hired and showing up for work. You have to contribute something positive to the business you are fortunate enough to work for, and the greater your contribution, the more you are able to earn.

A mandated high minimum wage contributes to the entitlement mentality, where people expect to exist without having to contribute very much to their own well-being. This is not a positive development for a society that was built by generations of Americans who were hard working and self-reliant.

Detroit and Baltimore are graphic examples of the failure of liberal policies, and now we see Washington State and Seattle heading down that same path.


James Shott is a columnist for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, and publishes his columns on several Websites, including his own, Observations.

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2020 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.