State minimum wage to increase to $11 on New Year's Day

In the new year, minimum wage workers across the state will see their hourly rate go up by more than a dollar-fifty.

The statewide minimum wage will increase from $9.47 to $11 per hour, a more than 16 percent jump.

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KIRO 7 spoke with business owners in Seattle who have been dealing with a higher minimum wage since the city began phasing one in during April of 2015.  Many employees in the city will make at least $13 per hour in 2017.

Seattle pizza shop owner Zhivko Momchev has a warning for the rest of the state.

"It's very difficult to survive with this minimum wage," he said.  "It's not good for us and the employees."

Momchev said he’s already had to lay people off at his restaurant Amante Pizza and Pasta, and he may soon raise prices.

However, Molly Moon Neitzel, who owns Seattle’s popular chain of ice cream shops, supported the minimum wage increases both in Seattle and statewide.

“A lot of people in Seattle were concerned when we decided to raise the wages in Seattle, and those concerns have really proven not to be so scary if you just make a plan and know your numbers well,” Neitzel said.

Neitzel’s plan included raising prices about four cents a scoop each year, and adjusting her business model slightly.  She also thinks the wage increase will be a net-positive for everyone.

“At the end of the wage increase across Washington State, low wage workers will have $650 more in their pockets, and they’re going to spend that in their local communities,” Neitzel said.

Paid sick leave and future wage increases are also coming in 2018.  The state of Washington is already working on those rules of implementation for sick leave.

A spokesman for state Labor and Industries said if after Jan. 1, if you believe your employer is not correctly increasing the minimum wage, to first take the concern to your boss, and if necessary file a complaint.   The spokesman stressed that retaliation over wage questions or concerns are illegal.

Last year the Washington Department of Labor and Industries reviewed 5440 complaints and recovered $2.8 million in unpaid wages.​

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