Washington workers who are paid less than $8 an hour are getting a pay raise starting Jan. 1.
The state’s minimum wage was $7.93 in 2007. The state Department of Labor and Industries upped the hourly rate 14 cents to $8.07.
"We set the rates based on the federal consumer price index," Labor and Industries spokeswoman Elaine Fischer said. "The national CPI is much more reliable than something like one for the Puget Sound, which can fluctuate wildly based on changed in large industry."
Labor and Industries is required by state law to analyze the state’s minimum wage and adjust it based on the federal consumer price index. The state increased the minimum wage more over the past two years, a total of 58 cents, than it had during the five years prior.
"We’ve been adjusting the minimum wage based on the CPI since 1999 when the Legislature passed the law requiring the procedure," Fischer said.
The consumer price index dictated a 1.8-percent increase going into 2008, compared to the 3.9-percent increase going into 2007.
In 2007, Washington had the highest state minimum wage. The next highest were Oregon at $7.80, Connecticut at $7.65 and Vermont at $7.53.
Washington’s minimum wage applies to workers in both agricultural and nonagricultural jobs, although 14- and 15-year-olds may be paid 85 percent of the adult minimum wage. Employers are not allowed to calculate tips and gratuities in their calculations to pay their employees the minimum rate.
The federal Department of Labor minimum wage was $5.85 an hour. In states that set rates that differ from federal law, the higher rate applies to employers in that state. Most Washington employers are subject to both sets of minimum wage and overtime laws.
For more information on Washington’s minimum wage and other employment requirements related to overtime, breaks and exemptions, visit wages.lni.wa.gov.