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Sept. 30, 2003

Minimum wage to increase to $7.16 an hour Jan. 1, 2004

TUMWATER — Washington’s minimum wage will increase 15 cents to $7.16 an hour beginning Jan. 1, 2004.

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) recalculates the state’s minimum wage each year in September as a result of an initiative approved by voters in 1998. The initiative requires 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). The current hourly rate is $7.01.

For the 12 months ending August 2003, that nationwide index increased 2.095 percent (rounded to 2.1 percent by the federal Department of Labor) over August 2002, resulting in a 15-cent increase for Washington’s minimum wage. 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.

At this point, Washington will have the highest minimum wage in the country next year. For comparison, Alaska’s minimum wage will reportedly remain at $7.15 an hour, and Connecticut is expected to raise its wage from $6.90 to $7.10 an hour. Oregon recently announced that its minimum wage would increase in January from $6.90 to $7.05 an hour.

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 at www.dol.gov/esa/minwage/america.htm.

For more information on Washington’s minimum wage, go to L&I’s minimum wage page at www.LNI.wa.gov/scs/workstandards/minwage.htm.

Radio broadcast version:

The Department of Labor & Industries says the state’s minimum wage will increase 15 cents to $7.16 an hour starting Jan. 1.

L&I recalculates the wage each year in September as the result of an initiative approved by voters in 1998. The measure requires an annual cost-of-living adjustment, based on changes in the federal Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

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. For more information, visit the L&I web site, www.LNI.wa.gov.

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For media information, call Lisa Pemberton at 360-902-5405 or email: peml235@lni.wa.gov.

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