Today, Sept. 7, King County Councilmember Zahilay announced a proposal to raise the minimum wage in unincorporated King County to $18.99. We have not seen draft language at this point but understand the proposal places employers into three tiers.

Employers with 500 employees or more will immediately pay $18.99/hour starting Jan. 1, 2024.

The proposal treats franchises as a unified employer.

Employers with 16 to 499 employees will pay two dollars less than the proposed minimum wage. This two-dollar deduction will decrease by one dollar annually on Jan. 1 each year.

Employers with 15 or fewer employees and have an annual gross revenue of less than $2 million will pay three dollars less than the proposed minimum wage. This three-dollar deduction will decrease by fifty cents annually on Jan. 1 each year.

In response to the proposal, the Washington Hospitality Association put out the following statement:

A 21% minimum wage increase after a multi-year pandemic pushed locally-owned businesses deep into debt and to the brink of closure will only further harm overburdened restaurants and hospitality businesses struggling to recover, leading to reduced hours for employees and higher meal prices for guests. Neither of these outcomes is an effective solution to King County’s unaffordability challenges, the primary driver for which is the cost of housing.

Washington ranks last in available housing inventory and first in highest minimum wage. Seattle and SeaTac did not become affordable or increase housing by raising the minimum wage. Failing to address the housing inventory crisis in communities across the state will not solve the affordability problem.

Costs for local families have skyrocketed. Groceries, restaurant meals, childcare, and other goods and services will cost even more if the Council passes this proposal. It’s clear more engagement with impacted communities is needed before this process proceeds.

Your government affairs team will be engaging the King County Council during the public workshop process that is referenced in the article below. Additionally, we will engage in the council process to ensure our perspective is heard.

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to Austin Miller,

Related news: King County Council considers increasing minimum wage to $19/hour