Yesterday, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) announced that the state’s minimum wage rate will increase 6 cents per hour in 2017. The wage will rise to $9.53 an hour on January 1, 2017. Washington’s 2016 minimum wage is $9.47 per hour.
Each year, L&I is required to adjust the state’s minimum wage rate based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) over the last 12 months, pursuant to a ballot initiative that voters approved in 1998. The index represents a “shopping basket” of goods needed for everyday living, including groceries, gas, and clothing. The 2017 minimum wage rate reflects a 0.7 percent increase in the federal CPI over the last year.
Washington employers are advised that minimum wage rate may be higher under local law. For example, Seattle, Sea-Tac, and Tacoma each have minimum wage rates that are higher than the state’s minimum wage rate. Employers in these jurisdictions must pay the higher minimum wage rate.
Washington is among 15 states with minimum wage rates that are tied to changes in the CPI. Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan (beginning 2019), Minnesota (beginning 2018), Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon (beginning 2023), South Dakota, and Vermont (beginning 2019) also have laws requiring annual adjustment of minimum wage rates based on changes in the CPI. Washington’s announcement suggests that several CPI states will be raising their minimum wage rates in 2017.