Minimum Wage Increase
Washington state already has the highest minimum wage in the country. At $9.04 it’s already $1.79 above federal minimum wage which is $7.25. Despite that, Washington is set to see a minimum wage increase to $9.19 in 2013. Scott Dilley, with Washington Farm Bureau talks about the impact even this seemingly small increase of 15 cents has on growers.
DILLEY: For those that do pay minimum wage this means a higher input cost. So not only are farmers facing higher inputs for fuel, fertilizers, pesticides, and other payroll taxes, now they have to pay more for labor.
Yet, there are a number of producers who already pay workers more than minimum wage. Dilley explains.
DILLEY: For those commodities that actually pay more than minimum wage, because they tend to pay on piece rate, apples for instance - tree fruit, where workers can actually earn more than the minimum wage, those growers may not be affected as much by this increase, but long term they will be, because this simply increases the wage floor in the state. And we continue to have the highest minimum wage in the nation.
Raising minimum wage yet again can affect Washington farmers on a national and even global scale.
DILLEY: That places our farmers and ranchers at a competitive disadvantage compared to other farmers in the rest of the country as well as agriculture worldwide. Our farmers are not able to recoup those increased input costs by passing on higher costs to the consumer due to national and international competition.
I’m Lacy Gray and that’s Washington Ag Today on the Northwest Ag Information Network.