Supporters push of $15 minimum wage in Seattle

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by Linda Brill / KING 5 News

KREM.com

Posted on March 28, 2014 at 6:19 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 28 at 6:21 AM

It's not a question of if, but when.

At the one-day Income Inequality Symposium held at Seattle University on Thursday, it appeared the quest for a $15 minimum wage is coming soon.

"The timing will be for the largest businesses. It may be more immediate. For small, medium size  businesses, it may be stretched out 3 or 4 years," said Seattle City Council member Nick Licata.

Nearly 500 people gathered in the discussion.

University of Washington researchers revealed a study, showing for a family, $15 may not be enough.

Asked what basic minimum wage someone would need to live in Seattle, U.W. researcher, Mark Long said, "Around $20 an hour, to be honest. A single worker supporting a family."

From Berkeley, researchers presented a study on the impacts of wage hikes on employment and consumer prices.

They studied San Francisco, which last year raised its minimum wage nearly 30 cents to $10.55 an hour.

They found the hike did not stump growth, but did bump consumer prices a bit.

"A few cents on a burger in San Francisco --you're talking about a 2, 3-cent increase we've had so far," said Berkeley researcher Ken Jacobs.

In opposition to a forced wage increase, Max Nelson with the Freedom Foundation came to hear the discussion.

He believes it  will hurt the very people it's designed to help.

"The burden of increasing the minimum wage typically falls on the least skilled workers, those toward the bottom end of the wage scale, less educated and have a difficult time producing $15 of value to the employers now," said Nelson.

Mayor Ed Murray is expected to recommend, and the city council is expected to vote on, a minimum wage increase by the end of April.

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