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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

July 17, 2014 at 12:31 PM

Seattle in its own minimum-wage bubble

Seattle is the only area in the state with a plurality of voters who believe that a $15 minimum wage would help the economy more than hurt it, according to an Elway poll released today. That puts city voters at odds with those elsewhere, including the rest of King County and all of Eastern Washington, where most voters say the higher minimum wage would cause employers to lay off workers and so hurt the economy more than boosting it by giving workers more money to spend.

Seattleites also were the only voters in the state with a majority who agreed that cities should be able to set their own minimum wage.

That might be good news to Tim Eyman who in June introduced a statewide initiative to make the minimum wage uniform across the state. The initiative faces a January deadline to collect more than 250,000 signatures and place the measure on the November 2015 ballot.

Seattle in June adopted a seven-year phased-in plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, following SeaTac, which adopted the $15 minimum for airport and hospitality workers in November.

The Elway poll noted that although 54 percent of respondents said a $15 minimum wage would hurt the economy, that’s down from 58 percent in September, suggesting that support is growing for the idea.

The Elway poll of 506 registered Washington voters was conducted between July 8 and 11, and has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points. Cell phone users made up 45 percent of the respondents. Just 50 of those respondents were from Seattle, so while the results accurately reflect the difference between the city and the rest of the state, the margin of error for the city results is large, said H. Stuart Elway, the author of the poll.

Seattle voters said the $15 minimum would do more to help than hurt the economy, by a 46 to 40 percent margin. That’s strikingly lower than the 74 percent who said they favored a $15 minimum wage in another poll by EMC Research in May, after the negotiated agreement was announced by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee.

In today’s Elway poll, state voters were more divided over whether cities should set their own minimum wage, with 43 percent agreeing and 49 percent saying there should be a uniform minimum wage for the whole state.

Comments | More in Politics Northwest | Topics: $15 minimum wage, Elway Poll


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