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Tukwila’s new minimum wage increase will be one of Washington state’s highest

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(The Center Square) – The City of Tukwila will soon raise its minimum wage to better compare to the neighboring City of SeaTac, which has the highest minimum wage in the U.S. at $19.06.

The minimum wage increase goes into effect on July 1, 2023. Large employers, which have more than 500 employees, regardless of where those employees are employed, will have to pay its workers a minimum of $18.99.

Midsize employers, which have at least 15 but no more than 500 employees worldwide, or over $2 million of annual gross revenue in Tukwila, will have to provide its workers a minimum wage of $16.99. Tukwila previously aligned its minimum wage with the state’s $14.49 an hour.

Tukwila cites a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition in 2021 that found that a worker making the state’s minimum wage would have to work 70 hours a week to afford a “modest one-bedroom rental home at Fair Market Rent.”

Last year, voters in the City of Tukwila approved an initiative, which concerned labor standards for certain employees who work in Tukwila. The new labor standards “ensure that the vast majority of employees in the City of Tukwila receive a minimum wage comparable to employees in the neighboring cities of SeaTac and Seattle,” according to the Tukwila Municipal Code.

The city claims it is one of the largest job centers in the State of Washington due to thousands of retail and food service jobs that surround the Westfield Southcenter Mall. The city also said that the statewide $15.74 minimum wage in Washington is not sufficient to afford rising rents and costs of living in the state.

“When working families earn insufficient income due to low wages and involuntary under-employment, they struggle to pay for basic necessities like health care, child care and groceries, and they are more likely to be evicted and become homeless,” the Tukwila Municipal Code states.

The City of SeaTac raised its minimum wage 8.6% at the start of 2023 from its 2022 minimum wage of $17.54 per hour to $19.06 for hospitality and transportation employees. That is the highest in the U.S., with Seattle following at $18.69 per hour.

SeaTac is approximately 10 square miles in area and has a population of 29,130. The city surrounds the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which is owned and operated by the Port of Seattle

Tukwila also said the minimum wage increase was also established to set the standard for the entire Western Washington region, alongside SeaTac and Seattle.

The minimum wage in Tukwila is expected to increase in the following years, as part of the new labor standards. On January 1, 2024 and every year thereafter, the minimum wage increase will be determined by the annual rate of inflation to maintain employee purchasing power.

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