House Democrats propose statewide $12 minimum wage

House Democrats held a press conference (video at the link)  today calling for a statewide $12 minimum wage. HB 2672 would take the wage to $12 by 2017. The Seattle Times reports:

Under the proposal, the state’s current $9.32 cent-an-hour minimum wage would increase to $10 an hour starting Jan. 1, 2015, and would get another $1 an hour bump at the beginning of 2016 and again in 2017, according to Democratic sources.

After that, wage increases would revert back to the current method, which ties bumps in pay to inflation.

Much of the questioning at the conference dealt with the bill’s prospects in the Senate. Although the bill has 30 Democratic sponsors in the House, passage there is not assured, either. The bill sponsor, Rep. Jessyn Farrell and legislators standing with her made it clear that they viewed $12 as the floor and that they supported cities like Seattle and SeaTac choosing a higher wage rate.

The governor released a statement supporting House efforts.

I want to thank the House Majority for putting forth a common senseplan for providing a fair wage for more Washingtonians.

Asked about critics claims that the higher wage would negatively affect business and lead to job losses, the sponsor said she figured there’d be dueling research studies. Here’s one. (H/T James Pethokoukis)

Taken together, the results for less educated workers imply that an increase in the minimum wage results in more stable jobs, but fewer of them. Thus, the policy debate should not just be about the employment rate effects of minimum wage increases but about the trade-off between good jobs with higher wages and more job stability versus easier access to jobs. And the debate is relevant for all of the low educated labour market, not just teenagers.

Tough things, those tradeoffs. We’ll be hearing (and writing) a lot more about them in the coming weeks.

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