Protesters are calling for a Seattle minimum wage
of $15 an hour for its lowest-wage workers, in hopes that movement would spread across the nation.
Washington has the nation's highest state minimum wage at $9.19 an hour, according to the Associated Press.
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Seattle's city council and mayoral candidates have jumped on board, saying the wage jump is worthy of serious discussion in a city that traditionally leans left politically.
Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, a mayoral candidate, told the Associated Press that higher minimum wage puts money in the hands of people who would spend it quickly, which would be a boost for local businesses.
"A higher minimum wage is a very simple and elegant solution to the death spiral of falling demand that is the signature feature of our economy," Hanauer said.
On the other hand, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims that a higher minimum wage would force small businesses to hire fewer people to cut costs.
Business advocates say the proposal would drive businesses out of Seattle, just as Wal-Mart left Washington, D.C., as the city wants to raise minimum wage to $12.50 for major retailers.
KIRO Radio's Linda Thomas reported
that the fast food industry is projected to create 10 times more jobs than aerospace engineering, according to the Economic Opportunity Institute.
"If we want to have a sustainable quality of life in our state, then we need to pay low-wage workers more money," John Burbank, of the institute, told KIRO. "They're more productive than they ever have been and yet that productivity isn't ending up helping them with their incomes it's going into corporate profits."
A small business owner in Seattle shot back.
"What profits?" the business owner said. "I'm barely getting by as it is and if I have to pay more, an extra $6 an hour, times 10 employees, times six days a week [...] the bottom line is, forget it. I can't afford that. I'll have to close."
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