British Columbia now has the lowest minimum wage in Canada, at $10.45 per hour we slid into last place due to New Brunswick’s minimum wage increase last week to $10.65 an hour.
Which has added more pressure on the province to boost the wage to $15/hour.
To the south of us there is also growing talk about raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
New York is thinking about it, the state legislature in California votes on it this week, and Oregon also has it on their legislative agenda.
The multi-step minimum-wage law, heading to $15 for all by 2021, has lifted up some low-income earners, shaken up some business models and stirred up controversy while prompting similar moves elsewhere.
Gradual increases began in 2015 when the city passed an ordinance. Since then the wage has been increased twice.
April 1st, 2015 was the first boost to minimum wage, when it went up to $10 or $11 depending on the size of the company, number of employees, and whether or not they receive benefit.
On January 1st of 2016 there was another bump between $10.50 and $13 per hour. And that will continue every January 1st until everyone gets to $15/hr.
LISTEN to the full interview here:
Good for low-wage earners
Blanca Torres is an economy writer for the Seattle Times. She spoke with Jon McComb about the effects the law has had on the city.
She says it’s too early to tell the long-term impacts, but it is clear that low-wage earners are seeing immediate benefits.
“Because there’s a lot of concern that raising the minimum wage will lead to job loss, and really isn’t a ticket to the middle class. But what we found when we did a story…for workers that received these increases, it makes a huge difference for them. Especially if you’re working 40 hours a week and your pay goes up a few dollars an hour.”
The minimum wage was the same as the state-wide wage of $9.74/hour before the civic ordinance came into effect.
Effect on businesses?
Torres says there haven’t been wide-spread business closures or lay-offs.
“The university of Washington has been commissioned by the city of Seattle to study this ordinance and and its impacts over several years. They’re done alot of surveys wioth hundreds of employers to start getting a sense of how people are reacting.”
So far Torres there’s no evidence that layoffs are happening on a broad scale.
“We’ve heard anecdotally that (with) some employers, if somebody leaves, they’re not being replaced.”
She says Seattle is an employment centre for the region and there are about 544,000 jobs in the city, with about one fifth of those jobs minimum wage.
“The estimate is that it’s about 100,000 people that would have been effected by the ordinance.”