More like Germany: The living wage nears a win in suburban Seattle

BY Paul Solman  November 7, 2013 at 10:46 AM EDT


A higher minimum wage in SeaTac, Wash., would close youth and immigrants out of entry-level jobs, argue small business owners like Mike West. Raising it to $15 an hour at the airport could divert employees away from surrounding small businesses. Why should anybody be entitled to an entry level job that pays as much as high-skilled positions, asks West? “It flies right in the face of what’s fair and what’s equitable.”

Actually, “it’s about the greater good,” says local SEIU President David Rolf. A $15-an-hour minimum wage is good for workers, and it’s better for the whole economy, including those local businesses. For more on the debate over raising the minimum wage in SeaTac, watch our Making Sen$e segment about the city’s ballot initiative, approval of which, as of Wednesday evening, was leading 53 to 47 percent.

Raising the minimum wage isn’t all SeaTac’s Proposition 1 would change. It would also guarantee paid sick leave for airport workers. Find out why those workers not having paid sick leave should be worrying you in Tuesday’s web exclusive video. Online, you can also see our extended conversation with Dr. Diana Pearce, who developed the “Self-Sufficiency Standard” as a way for families and individuals in different parts of the country to survive on a bare-bones budget.


Paul Solman visited SeaTac, Wash., to explore the different arguments for and against the city’s ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.


This entry is cross-posted on the Making Sen$e page, where correspondent Paul Solman answers your economic and business questions