TUMWATER — Washington state’s minimum wage, of $9.47 per hour, will stay the same in 2016 because the national Consumer Price Index did not increase.
Changes to the minimum wage are based on a nationwide measure of inflation called the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), according to a press release from the state Department of Labor and Industries. The index measures the cost of goods needed for everyday living, including groceries, gas and clothing. If the CPI-W goes up, L&I increases minimum wage to make up for inflation. However, between August 2014 and August 2015, the CPI-W actually decreased by 0.3 percent, so there will be no raise for minimum wage workers.
L&I announces any adjustments to the state’s minimum wage each fall, as required under Initiative 688, which voters approved in 1998. Under the law, the minimum wage can’t be decreased.
This is just the second time the state minimum wage has remained flat since passage of the initiative. The last time was in 2010.
The decision not to raise the wage will affect about 67,000 full-time equivalent jobs, according to the state Employment Security Department.
For years, Washington’s minimum wage has been the highest in the country, but that will change at the beginning of the year, when minimum wage in California and Massachusetts will increase to $10 per hour.