Last week, the House of Representatives voted on the Raise the Wage Act, which would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, despite warnings from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office that this would result in the loss of nearly 4 million American jobs.
With a state-wide minimum wage of $12 per hour, Washington mandates one of the highest rates in the country, and it will increase by another $1.50 in January 2020.
In an attempt to address wage disparity in large cities like Seattle, which already institutes a $15 minimum wage, this sharp, mandatory increase has led to businesses filing bankruptcy, and it is already having a harmful effect on small businesses and non-profits in Central Washington.
The Boys and Girls Club of the Columbia Basin in Moses Lake, for example, reached out to my office to share their concerns with the state’s accelerated wage increases and about the federal legislation.
The organization is required to maintain a certain ratio of employees to children in order to administer these important programs, and their average employee is a high school or college student, looking to pursue a summer or part-time job.
Many of their employees use their experience at the Boys and Girls Club as a stepping stone for their future careers. Every hard-working American deserves to earn a living wage. After the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, we witnessed companies across the nation improve benefits and invest in education and training programs for their employees, and wages have steadily continued to rise. We should be empowering employers to create more jobs and offer higher paychecks – not tying their hands and forcing them out of our communities.
I voted against the Raise the Wage Act because I have seen how families and communities in Central and Eastern Washington suffer from decisions made on the more populous and progressive west side of the state. We should not accept a federal mandate that further disproportionately burdens employers in our smaller, rural communities.
Congressman Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside serves the 4th Congressional District in Washington, D.C.