Washington Workers Who Earn Tips Not Highly Impacted by Min. Wage Increase
KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Starting January 1, 2013, hundreds of thousands of workers in ten states will be seeing a pay increase. Washington state is among the ten and has the highest state minimum wage rate in the country, up by $.15 to $9.19 an hour for full time employees.
And as part of their state law, each year the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries adjusts minimum wage based on the national cost of living index.
The state's minimum wage applies to workers in all industries including agriculture. 14 and 15 year olds in Washington may be paid 85% of the adult's wage, or $7.81 an hour.
Laws in the states of Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington; and Guam do not recognize differences between tipped vs non-tipped employees in minimum wage determination.
The Fair Labor Standards Act defines a tipped employee as anyone receiving more than $30 per month in tips, although several states set a lower $20 per month threshold.
So in Washington, servers earn the full $9.19 plus tips compared to an Ohio server earning $3.93 plus tips.
"With my paycheck, it adds up for enough for my rent, PUD and all that extra stuff. I don't feel like I'm wanting anything. it's a great place to work here," said Teri Kross, who has been working as a server at Sterling's Restaurant in Kennewick for three years.
The manager of the Kennewick restaurant, Paul Baxter says a $.15 increase makes a big difference for small business owners. The Sterling's in Kennewick employs 35 people, and all the servers earn minimum wage. Baxter says between the three restaurants, they have more than 100 workers.
"It affects everybody. It raises the cost of produce. It raises the cost of meat and sea food, and raises the cost of everything and then we have to pass that along to the customer which is something we don't really like to do," Baxter said.
The automatic adjustments aren't much. Washington's bump of 15 cents will mean those who work 40-hour weeks will earn an extra $6 per week or about $300 per year. Still, some say anything helps.
"It's probably not going to be life changing, its just going to help because obviously prices on everything are going up," said Kendal Fisher, a server of four years.
Currently the highest minimum wage for a city is in San Francisco, $10.55 an hour for both tipped and non tipped employees. The lowest rate for a state is in Idaho at $7.25 an hour.