In this space I sometimes have argued that while liberal Seattle talks the talk, it doesn’t always walk the walk. But there’s no doubt that the city not only walked, it literally sprinted in enacting an ordinance that eventually will raise the local minimum wage to $15.00 an hour, by far the highest of any large city in the country.
And once again, Seattle seems to have captured widespread media attention–if not always admiration–in the same way it did for legalization of recreational marijuana and gay marriage. A Google search from the New To Seattle world headquarters for “Seattle” and “minimum wage” generated a whopping 9.2 million hits.
This is a huge amount of attention for a city that comprises less than one ten-thousandth of the world’s population.
Here’s a sampling of news media headlines in the past 48 hours:
- “History In The Making” (Slate)
- “Seattle Approves $15 Minimum Wage, Setting A New Standard For Big Cities” (The New York Times)
- “Seattle Imposes Highest Minimum Wage Of $15” (The Guardian, London)
- “Seattle Council Ups The Minimum Wage (Irish Independent, Dublin)
- “Burger-Flippers Of Seattle To Savor Taste of Victory” (Bloomberg TV)
- “Who Will Follow Seattle Wage Hike?” (The Sun, Westerly, R.I.)
- “Mayor: No Seattle-Like Wage Hike For Dayton” (Dayton Daily News, Ohio)
- “Seattle’s Suicidal Minimum Wage (Investor’s Daily, Los Angeles)
I suppose it will take some time–like a decade, since the law doesn’t fully take effect until 2021–to see if this measure is the poverty killer its progressive supporters claim or the job killer its critics predict. But the ordinance–which on its first page cited President Obama’s view that income inequality is “the defining issue of our time”–clearly reinforced the notion elsewhere that Seattle is a liberal happenin’ place.
Now if only the bad street signage could be eliminated so all these higher-paid employees can more easily find their workplaces.
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I hope we’re both around when the results are in.
Looks like this will be a good ‘natural experiment.’ We can all watch to see the impact over time.