This page provides a quick overview of federal, state, and local minimum wage laws that apply to Washington State local and state government agencies including examples of local living wage codes.
Minimum Wage Guidelines
While municipal employers have great discretion in setting the salaries and other compensation for their employees, there are some guidelines that must be followed. Both federal and state laws provide that employees, with a few minor exceptions, must be paid a minimum wage.
Washington State Minimum Wage
The state Minimum Wage Act is set out at chapter 49.46 RCW. The Washington minimum wage is revised annually, with the increase calculated according to the change in the federal "CPI-W." Currently, the state minimum wage is $11.00 per hour.
Beginning January 1, 2018, due to the 2016 voters’ passage of Initiative 1433, the state minimum wage will rise to $11.50 per hour. In 2019, it will increase to $12.00, and finally in 2020 to $13.50 per hour.
For information on the state minimum wage, including a link to the required poster and a history of the minimum wage, see the webpage Minimum Wages, provided by the state Department of Labor and Industries.
Federal Minimum Wage
The federal rate was increased to $7.25 per hour on July 24, 2009. For further information regarding the federal minimum wage, go to the webpage Minimum Wage prepared by the U.S. Department of Labor.
At present, since the state minimum wage exceeds the minimum wage set at the national level, the state minimum wage is the effective minimum level of pay in Washington.
Local Living Wage Codes
Some local governments have concluded that workers who work for employers who contract with the local government should be paid at a level higher than that set by either the federal or state government, what is typically called a "Living Wage." Since a living wage is established by a local government, there is no standard manner set for determining the amount of the wage; however, in most instances the wage is set according to the federal poverty guidelines for a specific family size.
Seattle, for instance, has adopted legislation to increase the minimum wage within the city to $15.00 per hour. This legislation will be phased in over time, based upon the size of the employer. For further information, see the city of Seattle's Minimum Wage Ordinance webpage.