Economic & Equity Outcomes of $15/Hr Wage

Is a $15 minimum wage right for Seattle? If the question is “what policy could have the largest effect on income inequality and race and gender earnings disparities?” the answer is yes.

April 2014 - In this policy brief, we explore implications of a $15 minimum wage for the City of Seattle. Specifically, we examine the potential outcome of a $15 minimum wage on our local economy, assess outcomes by industry sector, and demonstrate that a $15 minimum wage would create large scale benefits to women and communities of color.

We conclude that the net benefits to low-wage workers, the local economy and to race and gender equity make a compelling case to adopt a minimum wage in Seattle. Key findings include:

  • $526 million dollars will be added to the paychecks of Seattle’s lowest wage workers: a wage increase that is significant for low-income families trying to make ends meet, but represents only 1.7% of Seattle employers’ total payroll costs.
  • This infusion of new earnings will result in worker spending and re-spending, creating a total ripple effect of $625 million dollars to the regional economy.
  • Women and people of color living in Seattle currently earn between 44% and 71% of what white men earn.
  • The over-representation of women and people of color in low-wage industries, such as food services, likely explains much of this pay gap.
  • Raising the minimum wage is the fastest and most targeted policy option to narrow the gender and race pay gap.