Seattle's minimum wage rise could impact Inland Northwest

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by SHAWN CHITNIS & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on June 4, 2014 at 6:59 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 4 at 7:18 AM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- After Seattle’s decision to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, KREM 2 News looked into what that could mean for the Inland Northwest.

"This is a fairly large change in the minimum wage for a fairly large metropolitan area and we haven't seen this before,” said Avista Chief Economist Grant Forsyth.

READ: Seattle's $15 minimum wage: Questions and answers

The decision was significant even for a city and state with a relatively high minimum wage. Seattle would likely still be at $12 per hour in the year 2025 if it were not for the change, according to the Seattle Times. With the change, some workers would begin to see that $15 per hour between 2017 and 2021.

"A lot of communities are going to be watching what happens in Seattle,” said Forsyth.

Spokane area economists said some jobs would be lost because companies could not afford the new price. Others said spending would go up because more people would have more money.

"Everybody's going to be watching and trying to figure out which effect is largest,” said Forsyth.

Officials said some businesses could look to move their employees elsewhere if they could not keep up with the high minimum wage.

"You might have some businesses that are capable of relocating out of the area covered by the new minimum wage,” said Forsyth.

Economists said it was important to remember how Spokane’s economy benefits from a strong economy in Seattle.

"When they do well, we do well and vice versa,” said Forsyth.
 

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