Cost of living varies dramatically across the country and within states. There’s really no dispute about that. And, that’s the reason some lawmakers, economists and policy analysts say minimum wage legislation should recognize regional differences. Oregon, for example, has a different minimum wage for Portland and the rest of the state.
Businesses in the Seattle-Puget Sound region of the state, where the economy is red hot, can more easily absorb the annual hike in minimum wage. But in Eastern Washington and in many parts of rural Western Washington, many employees lost their jobs when the minimum wage went to $12 an hour this year. Others saw higher prices from retailers as they adjusted their business…
The editorial believes in the regional minimum wage policy, but points out there are questions that must be answered before regionalization goes into effect.
Exactly what the difference in the minimum wage should be for the various regions of Washington state is not clear, but the basic concept is sound.
The overall wages for those living in urban areas are higher — often much higher — than they are in Walla Walla, Dayton, Richland, Pasco and Kennewick for work that is similar. Employers must pay that much more to attract qualified people because of the cost of living.
The minimum wage should work the same way. It should be based on the cost of living for the area.
The escalating state minimum wage needs to be addressed before it creates serious and deep economic damage to this region.