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Sept. 30, 2002

Minimum wage to increase to $7.01 an hour Jan. 1, 2003

TUMWATER - The state minimum wage will increase 11 cents to $7.01 an hour starting Jan. 1, 2003. The current hourly rate is $6.90.

Washington's minimum wage is recalculated each year in September as a result of an initiative approved by voters in 1998. The initiative required an annual cost-of-living adjustment in the minimum wage based on changes in the federal Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

For the 12 months ending August 2002, that nationwide index increased 1.6 percent over August 2001. Therefore, Washington's current minimum wage of $6.90 will increase 1.6 percent - 11 cents - to $7.01.

The new wage applies to workers in both agricultural and non-agricultural jobs. Fourteen- and 15-year-olds may be paid 85 percent of the adult minimum wage.

For comparison, Alaska's current minimum wage of $5.65 an hour will increase to $7.15 on Jan. 1, 2003, as a result of legislation passed this year that established the new rate and authorized annual cost-of-living adjustments. In Oregon, residents are scheduled to vote on an initiative to increase the minimum wage from $6.50 to $6.90, with an annual cost-of-living adjustment.

The federal Department of Labor minimum wage is $5.15 an hour. But in states that set rates that differ from federal law, the higher rate applies. Rates for states that have a minimum wage are available on a DOL Web site.

For more information on Washington's minimum wage, go to Labor & Industries' Web site for minimum wage.

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