The Washington Department of Labor and Industries announced last week that the state’s minimum wage would increase 54 cents to $16.28 an hour in 2024. This would mean a full-time employee making minimum wage would make $34,000 a year.
The increase is a cost-of-living adjustment based on the Consumer Price Index released by the federal government. The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 since 2009.
Currently, Washington has the highest state minimum wage in the nation, while three cities in the state have higher minimum wages. Seattle has a minimum wage of $18.69, its suburb of Tukwila has a wage of $18.99, and SeaTac near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has a wage of $19.06.
In 1998, Washington passed Initiative 688, which led to implementing the first-ever state minimum wage law in the United States. This legislation initially set the minimum wage at $5.70 per hour and tied it to the inflation rate, ensuring that the minimum wage would rise with the cost of living. By September of 2021, the state’s minimum wage was at $13.69 per hour.
The first federal minimum wage law was the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, requiring prevailing wages on federally funded construction projects. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 set the first national minimum wage at 25 cents per hour.
Currently, West Hollywood, California, has the highest minimum wage of all U.S. cities at $19.08.