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The Almighty Buck Politics

Seattle Approves $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage 1040

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the only-sort-of-starving-now dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Seattle City Council announced on Monday that it has unanimously approved a $15 per hour minimum wage mandate. The new rate will go into effect starting April 1, 2015 in a tiered, gradual manner that depends on employer size. In the first year of implementation, hourly minimum wage will be raised to either $10 or $11 according to the employer size category. By 2021, hourly minimum wage across the board should be at or above $15. Seattle is the first city to implement a living wage for its lowest earners."
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Seattle Approves $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage

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  • Behind the curve (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TitusC3v5 (608284) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @04:03AM (#47153067) Homepage
    $15 per hour is barely a livable wage currently; there's no way it will be in 2021.
    • Re:Behind the curve (Score:5, Informative)

      by Your.Master (1088569) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @04:30AM (#47153135)

      It's indexed to inflation. The value is $15 in 2017 dollars. For the sake of making this readable, I will represent the value of $15 in 2017 as $X, and the value of $15 in the year it is earned as $Y. Thus, in 2017, X = Y. After 2017, X > Y. Before 2017, X Y. X and Y might still be hard to read but I promise this was worse before I edited it, since I kept saying "$15 in 2017 dollars" for X and "$15 in contemporary dollars" for Y :).

      If you look at the graph, it only converges on $X wage for all businesses by 2025.

      The 2021 figure is when the last business category ( 500 employees) hits a $Y minimum wage, and minimum $X of total compensation. Eg. in 2021 those companies can count healthcare against the $X, while only actually paying $Y. But by 2025, and they still have to be ready to pay the full $X by 2025.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Charliemopps (1157495)

      $15 per hour is barely a livable wage currently; there's no way it will be in 2021.

      and thanks for pointing out the problem with the minimum wage...

      Its NEVER enough.

      I'm not suggesting we do nothing about wage disparity, but the minimum wage does little to help the poor. Most of the poor don't have jobs to begin with, and raising the minimum wage will make that even worse.

    • $30,000 per year (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sjbe (173966)

      $15 per hour is barely a livable wage currently; there's no way it will be in 2021.

      $15/hour is approximately $30,000 per year. If you can't figure out how to live on $30,000 per year then you are utterly clueless and/or spoiled. No it won't be a posh lifestyle but it's certainly enough to get by and it will be in 6.5 years too baring economic catastrophe.

      • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @09:05AM (#47154751)

        $15/hour is approximately $30,000 per year. If you can't figure out how to live on $30,000 per year then you are utterly clueless and/or spoiled.

        It's truly sad how many of this sort of ignorant comments a story like this brings out.

        The main thing to take note of is that many people who work for minimum wage don't work full-time. So, you can't just extrapolate from an hourly wage to an annual salary. And most part-time workers are subject to the whims of their employer in terms of work schedule. If you're not getting enough hours from one job, it's often difficult to add on another part-time job, because many employers demand flexibility in your schedule. You can't come in a few times? Fine -- they'll start calling someone else.

        No it won't be a posh lifestyle but it's certainly enough to get by and it will be in 6.5 years too baring economic catastrophe.

        If you're (1) a single person (2) with no kids (3) in good health (4) with no dependents (5) in an area where rents and cost of living aren't outrageous, yeah, it's almost "certainly enough to get by." You might even be able to live reasonably well, if you are budget-conscious. If any of those is not true, it can be harder. If you have a number of these "conditions," even assuming a full-time job and a $30,000 income, it may not be easy.

        • by Enigma2175 (179646) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @10:59AM (#47156139) Homepage Journal

          It's truly sad how many of this sort of ignorant comments a story like this brings out.

          The main thing to take note of is that many people who work for minimum wage don't work full-time. So, you can't just extrapolate from an hourly wage to an annual salary. And most part-time workers are subject to the whims of their employer in terms of work schedule. If you're not getting enough hours from one job, it's often difficult to add on another part-time job, because many employers demand flexibility in your schedule. You can't come in a few times? Fine -- they'll start calling someone else.

          No it won't be a posh lifestyle but it's certainly enough to get by and it will be in 6.5 years too baring economic catastrophe.

          If you're (1) a single person (2) with no kids (3) in good health (4) with no dependents (5) in an area where rents and cost of living aren't outrageous, yeah, it's almost "certainly enough to get by." You might even be able to live reasonably well, if you are budget-conscious. If any of those is not true, it can be harder. If you have a number of these "conditions," even assuming a full-time job and a $30,000 income, it may not be easy.

          Why does it have to be easy? If you made poor decisions in your life (no skills, children you can't afford, living in an area you can't afford) why is it my responsibility (or the government's responsibility, or a private company's responsibility) to provide for you? The only item I agree with on your list is health, often health problems are not under a person's control. For things that ARE under a person's control, they made their choices, they should be the one to pay the piper. If your skills do not command a high enough salary it is your failing, not your employer's. If you provide more value for your employer and your job isn't so easy that they can hire a 16-year-old off the street to replace you then you have bargaining power when it comes to salary negotiations. If you don't educate yourself and your only skills are what your employer teaches you after being hired then you shouldn't expect to make a ton of money.

          • Re:$30,000 per year (Score:5, Interesting)

            by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @03:27PM (#47159325)

            Why does it have to be easy?

            Did I say it had to be? No. I was arguing against the Parent Poster's comment, which was in response to GP's comment that a minimum wage was "barely a liveable wage." The Parent responded and said people who couldn't figure out how live on that were "clueless and/or spoiled" and it was "certainly enough to get by."

            I then responded to and said it probably wouldn't be that easy for everyone, and I gave examples where it might be harder, i.e., closer to GP's claim that for some people it might "barely" be "a liveable wage."

            In other words, I wasn't at all arguing that it should be "easy," but rather that for some people with these situations, it simply isn't, and it's rather ignorant to suggest that it is.

            If you made poor decisions in your life (no skills, children you can't afford, living in an area you can't afford) why is it my responsibility (or the government's responsibility, or a private company's responsibility) to provide for you?

            Some people are actually stupid, you know. I don't mean to insult them. I mean that for some people it's really difficult to develop good skills that would be worth more than $15/hour to somebody. If you're officially "mentally retarded," you can often get government subsidies to assist you. But if you're above the arbitrary borderline, you're on your own. Many of the guys who are washing dishes in a kitchen or cleaning the bathroom or bagging your groceries would have serious difficulties developing more "skills" to be competitive in the marketplace. I'm NOT saying we should just give them a happy life for free, but not everyone in the world has the same natural talents for earning potential as anyone else.

            As for children, growing up in poverty has all sorts of negative repercussions for kids, and it leads to a cycle where the kids end up living crappy lives again. I don't think there are easy answers to this problem, but simply saying "it's not my problem" will ultimately lead to a generation of more kids in poverty, committing more crimes, etc. down the road. Again, I'm NOT saying we should just throw money at the problem, but we shouldn't ignore it either. (Also, note that combined with above -- stupid people often don't make the best choices. That can include having kids they can't afford. But as a society we've decided that forced sterilization of stupid people is wrong. So... well, that leaves us with a problem of people who sometimes have kids they can't afford, and we need to address it somehow.)

            As for "living in an area you can't afford," well, it depends on where you can get a job. You move out of the city, maybe you have to get a car -- a car costs money, insurance, gas, maintenance, etc. You save on rent, but spend more for your car and have a longer commute which means you can't work as many hours. Sure, in some cases you could solve things by moving, but in other cases it's not so simple. I'm not saying this one is the government's problem, but it is a rationale for trying to tailor our poverty policies to the cost of the standard of living in a particular area. Hence my reply to the original parent about $30k -- in some areas, that's plenty to live comfortably. In others, not so much. We just need to be conscious of that.

            The only item I agree with on your list is health, often health problems are not under a person's control.

            How about (4) on my list: other dependents? Like, for example, ailing parents. Are they under your control, too? I made my choice to care for my sick dad who can't work, so I have to "pay the piper"? Also, there are all sorts of situations where you can end up taking care of people -- for example, kids often end up living with aunts or grandparents if their parents are unable to care for them (for whatever reason). Is it still my "choice" to make if my grandkid needs a home, and I don't want him to go to

    • Re:Behind the curve (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rastos1 (601318) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @08:46AM (#47154575) Homepage
      Minimum wage and livable wage are unrelated.
  • by Kryptonian Jor-El (970056) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @04:03AM (#47153069)
    $15 will be the new $7.50
  • Hello automation! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @04:24AM (#47153121)

    I hope everyone on Seattle loves to interact with machines rather than people. That is what you will experience at McFastFoods, Starcoffee, and any other unskilled labored job.

    Unfortunately this will hit teenagers the most. Contrary to what the supports of the home cherry pick, those who earn minimum wage have the least amount of experience. In other words, young people. And while the law will make some exception for teenager salaries, with the addition of all the enhanced automation, you'll have a city with a high population of unemployed teens which causes a different set of issues.

    I hope I'm wrong and this turns out to be a good thing. It's nice to see a community try something different so everyone can learn from the experience.

    • by MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @04:34AM (#47153151)

      At least the machines will get your order right.

    • Re:Hello automation! (Score:4, Informative)

      by cmdr_tofu (826352) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @05:19AM (#47153305) Homepage

      There are, suprisingly, a lot of adult fast food workers.

      http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2014/... [cnn.com]

  • Sweden (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MindPrison (864299) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @04:33AM (#47153149) Journal
    In Sweden we have no minimum wage. We're said to be one of the richest countries in the world, but there is a dark underground that very few speak about, and that is about all those people who work for LESS than the US call "minimum wage". It may sound like a joke to you (especially if you read the numbers), but I can assure you - it is not. When I was new to Sweden, I had to work for LESS than minimum wage as a substitute teacher in some small city. Substitute teachers have no rights, receive only what they can negotiate (which is usually very little, and we compete with foreigners and FAS3...gov. unemployed activity candidates) for the scraps.

    The same thing with burger flippers, and now also train-personnel (they're currently on STRIKE in Sweden right now, for the rights to work full-time instead of being paid by the hour and shared amongst many desperate job seekers).

    This seems to be the net outcome of the society we've chosen today, to let the few have 80% of our assets, and the rest just work as slaves for the 10-20% rich elite. I must stress that I am not a socialist or communist by a long shot, but there is something wrong with a society that can't pay their workers a proper wage.
    • Re:Sweden (Score:4, Interesting)

      by blahplusplus (757119) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @05:03AM (#47153235)

      "I must stress that I am not a socialist or communist by a long shot, but there is something wrong with a society that can't pay their workers a proper wage."

      That's the nature of capitalist society, capitalism naturally breeds inequality. Marx's analysis of capitalism still holds true.

      Dealing with the effects of capital accumulation on the working class, Marx states:

      "They mutilate the labourer into a fragment of a man, degrade him to the level of the appendage of a machines destroy every remnant of charm in his work and turn it into a hateful toil; they estrange him from the intellectual potentialities of the labour-process in the same proportion as science is incorporated in it as an independent power. ... It follows therefore in proportion as capital accumulates the lot of labourer, be his wages high or low, must grow worse. It establishes an accumulation of misery corresponding with the accumulation of capital. Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, accumulation of misery, agony, toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation at the opposite pole."

      • Re:Sweden (Score:4, Interesting)

        by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @05:19AM (#47153309) Homepage
        "The only universal medicine (Marxists) have for social evils - State ownership of the means of production - is not only perfectly compatible with all the disasters of the capitalist world: with exploitation, imperialism, pollution, misery, economic waste, national hatred and national oppression, but it adds to them a series of disasters of its own: inefficiency, lack of economic incentives and above all the unrestricted rule of the omnipresent bureaucracy, a concentration of power never before known in human history".
        -- Leszek Kolakowski (a man who grew up much like you, as an ardent Marxist and atheist, only to get hit on the head with a cold bucket of reality from the system that you love)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheSync (5291)

        That's the nature of capitalist society, capitalism naturally breeds inequality. Marx's analysis of capitalism still holds true.

        On the other hand, Communism kills tens of millions of people through starvation (Ukrainian "famine", Great Leap Forward, etc.). So you gotta make the call if you want the poor to starve or to just be unequal.

    • by CRCulver (715279)
      In the Nordic countries, I can only assume that any working class receiving a meagre salary is insufficiently organized. When I moved to Finland to study, I initially didn't speak the language well enough to get white collar work, so I had to support myself by taking cleaning jobs. I was amazed how much money I was making compared to what I would have made in the US: though there is no legislated minimum wage, the union had succeeded in bargaining for high wages and other benefits, all of which employees in
  • First city? (Score:5, Informative)

    by physicsphairy (720718) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @04:35AM (#47153155) Homepage

    In the first year of implementation, hourly minimum wage will be raised to either $10 or $11 according to the employer size category. By 2021, hourly minimum wage across the board should be at or above $15. Seattle is the first city to implement a living wage for its lowest earners

    Santa Fe has had a living wage since 2003, presently at $10.66. San Francisco implemented a living wage shortly thereafter, presently at $10.74. I'm sure there are others at this point.

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @04:44AM (#47153171)

    They've just promised that some other group of politicians will raise it years from now?

    This seems to be the way so many new laws work: they're delayed until after the next election, so today's politicos can take the praise for passing the law, and the new bunch will be the ones in power when the problems become apparent.

  • by StripedCow (776465) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @05:00AM (#47153225)

    I'll just leave this here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • by tlambert (566799) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @05:21AM (#47153317)

    I like how they conflate "minimum" and "living". The quoted councilman is doing it for effect, obviously, but it's not the same thing, and it won't be.

    Jobs which currently exist, and are not worth paying for under the new wage will either go away, or become "sidework". This is how "sidework" started in the food service industries in the first place, after the minimum wage bumped to the point that it was no longer profitable enough to employ full time bus boys. It's why your tables don't get bussed by someone other than the waiter/waitress at even mid scale restaurants these days, and why in the higher end restaurants with bus staff, they tend to be paid out of shared tips from the wait staff at the lower end of high end places, or make minimum wage at the higher end.

    Other jobs which are nice-but-not-strictly-necessary just won't get done. This is why your typical store owner doesn't have a kid washing down the sidewalk at the start of the day, and why the parking lot at the strip mall near your house looks like the inside of a dumpster, until the minimal cleaning work by local ordinance can be carried out by a street sweeper service that hits the parking lots of the local businesses as little as legally possible to get away with.

    There will be jobs going away over this for sure. It will be interesting to watch how this plays out over time; I don't expect most other cities to be following this model, and I don't expect state adoption any time soon in Washington.

  • by Digital Vomit (891734) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @06:16AM (#47153553) Homepage Journal

    What we really need is a maximum wage; a maximum amount of annual income -- from any source -- that a person can make. This maximum amount should be tied to the median income or some such so that if the rich and powerful want to increase their earning limit, they have to do things that will benefit all of society instead of hurting all of society.

    Too much of the economy's lifeblood (i.e. money) is sequestered in the bank accounts of the ultra-wealthy, which a) stalls the economy, and b) gives a disproportionate amount of socio-political power to those individuals. The current vast difference in wealth is as damaging to the human race as things like racism, homophobia, nationalism, etc. (if not more so), and people really need to realize this.

    There is an entire class of people that most of society never sees, but which has a profound impact on their lives...and our current economic setup promotes sociopaths and psychopaths into this class. These people have the economic power and the self-centered focus to literally destroy the planet. This situation has to be rectified.

    • Wow, just a couple of comments up someone was accused of making the slippery slope fallacy because they proposed that "first they set the minimum wage, than they make if a 'living wage', then they start calling for a maximum wage. And here you are proving that they were not guilty of a fallacy at all!
  • by Bruinwar (1034968) <bruinwar@NOSpAM.hotmail.com> on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @06:52AM (#47153715)
    What business hires employees they don't need? If you lay people off because the minimum wage is raised, who takes over the work those people did? You can spread around some of it to other employees but that only goes so far. Every single place I've ever worked at had just enough or usually less than enough people to do what needed to be done. Productivity has never been higher in the U.S.

    OK so some businesses will not be able to either give up some profit or raise prices to accommodate the higher wages... they go belly up. But then whatever services they provided will be unavailable & someone will jump in & fill that gap. It's hard to believe the claims of job losses tied to the minimum wage.

    • by Simulant (528590)
      Oh, but cheap, exploitable labor is the Capitalist's god-given right. Just another commodity.
    • What business hires employees they don't need? If you lay people off because the minimum wage is raised, who takes over the work those people did? You can spread around some of it to other employees but that only goes so far. Every single place I've ever worked at had just enough or usually less than enough people to do what needed to be done. Productivity has never been higher in the U.S.

      OK so some businesses will not be able to either give up some profit or raise prices to accommodate the higher wages... they go belly up. But then whatever services they provided will be unavailable & someone will jump in & fill that gap. It's hard to believe the claims of job losses tied to the minimum wage.

      It's not an employee you don't need. It's an under-performing load you wouldn't want anyways, or a tough choice you have to make having to let go of someone you actually like just to keep the rest of the business afloat. Starting a business is getting harder and more expensive than it was before. The new businesses that you say will jump in and fill the gap will have a higher cost structure than their predecessors, so the incentive is lessened, to the point where it's better to just not try.

      There is no

  • by Petron (1771156) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @09:22AM (#47154907)

    (Wow, this got long...)
    When minimum wage became the big issue, with all the protests, I thought back when I made minimum wage. I flipped burgers and live in a house with 4 friends. Sure I couldn't afford rent and food at minimum wage, but I could afford 1/5th rent and food and have plenty left over. My friends (who also worked the same McJob) saved money, a couple bough used cars. We had every game system, a great stereo, I had a top of the line computer. We had enough and some luxury items. I thought back then and how much I made. I adjusted my wage with inflation and it came to...... $6.52/hr. WHAT? wait a sec, all those protesters with signs said if I adjusted for minimum wage, it would be 10.75/hr! What gives???

    So I grabbed every minimum wage since it's start and adjusted each one for minimum wage. Here it is (Note: I did this 3-4 months ago, there could be more inflation now):
    Year: Wage then -> Adjusted to 'today' (3-4 months ago)
    1955: $0.75 -> $6.55
    1956: $1.00 -> $8.60
    1957: $1.00 -> $8.32
    1958: $1.00 -> $8.09
    1959: $1.00 -> $8.04
    1960: $1.00 -> $7.90
    1961: $1.15 -> $9.00
    1962: $1.15 -> $8.91
    1963: $1.25 -> $9.56
    1964: $1.25 -> $9.43
    1965: $1.25 -> $9.28
    1966: $1.25 -> $9.02
    1967: $1.40 -> $9.80
    1968: $1.60 -> $10.75 $10.20
    1970: $1.60 -> $9.65
    1971: $1.60 -> $9.24
    1972: $1.60 -> $8.95
    1973: $1.60 -> $8.43
    1974: $2.00 -> $9.49
    1975: $2.10 -> $9.13
    1976: $2.30 -> $9.46
    1977: $2.30 -> $8.88
    1978: $2.65 -> $9.51
    1979: $2.90 -> $9.34
    1980: $3.10 -> $8.80
    1981: $3.35 -> $8.62
    1982: $3.35 -> $8.12
    1983: $3.35 -> $7.87
    1984: $3.35 -> $7.54
    1985: $3.35 -> $7.28
    1986: $3.35 -> $7.15
    1987: $3.35 -> $6.90
    1988: $3.35 -> $6.62
    1989: $3.35 -> $6.32
    1990: $3.80 -> $6.80
    1991: $4.25 -> $7.30
    1992: $4.25 -> $7.09
    1993: $4.25 -> $6.88
    1994: $4.25 -> $6.71
    1995: $4.25 -> $6.52
    1996: $4.75 -> $7.08
    1997: $5.15 -> $7.51
    1998: $5.15 -> $7.39
    1999: $5.15 -> $7.23
    2000: $5.15 -> $7.00
    2001: $5.15 -> $6.80
    2002: $5.15 -> $6.70
    2003: $5.15 -> $6.55
    2004: $5.15 -> $6.38
    2005: $5.15 -> $6.17
    2006: $5.15 -> $5.98 $6.60
    2008: $6.55 -> $7.12
    2009: $7.25 -> $7.90
    2010: $7.25 -> $7.78
    2011: $7.25 -> $7.54
    2012: $7.25 -> $7.39
    2013: $7.25 -> $7.28
    2014: $7.25 -> $7.25

    Now you see, the 10.75 is the highest value, in 1968. Claiming that should be the standard is as intellectually dishonest as claiming the lowest value ($5.98/hr) should be the standard. The median would be $7.78, and the average would be $7.94. A fair minimum wage increase would be in that rage. Last time we raised minimum wage in 2009, there was no issue... because it was with in that median-average rage. It was fair.

    Minimum wage jobs are not meant to careers. They are entry level jobs for teens and young adults. Majority of minimum wage workers are just starting out. As you gain experience you become worth more to an employer and you should make more. If you aren't, look for a new job. Early in my adult life, I switched jobs every 1-2 years. Each job paid better than the previous.

    There will always be somebody at the bottom. The young person who just starts out doesn't have anything. Some have debts, like college loans, so they have a negative self-worth. As we gain skills and earn more, our worth goes up. People love to tout the "Wealth inequality" but the better picture is "Income Mobility". What happens to those in the bottom 20%... From 1996 to 2005, over 50% of the people in the bottom 20% moved up to a higher bracket. In just 10 years, most moved up. Now why has the bracket increased in size if everybody is moving up? The bottom is always filled with new people entering the work force. The 9 year old in 1996 is now in the work force in 2005.

    Also, when peop

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