The minimum wage will climb in 2017 in a patchwork fashion: Washington workers not covered by the increases in Seattle, Tacoma or SeaTac will get a 16 percent boost to $11 per hour.

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Next month the $15 minimum wage in Seattle becomes reality for the first wave of workers, while in most other parts of the state the minimum wage will jump to $11.

Seattle’s minimum-wage law, passed by the City Council and signed by the mayor in 2014, gradually raises the minimum wage each year until it reaches $15 for all workers by 2021. It gives small employers more time than large ones to reach that $15 pay rate.

Starting Jan. 1, large employers in Seattle that have 501 or more workers and do not pay toward medical benefits must pay their employees at least $15 an hour. Large employers that do pay toward medical benefits will pay $13.50.

New minimum wages for 2017


Minimum wage as of Jan. 1: $11 an hour.

Who is covered: All workers 16 years and older, including those in agriculture, regardless of the size of the employer.

Sick-leave requirement: Does not take effect until 2018.

Cities where a local minimum wage will supersede state law in 2017:


Minimum wage as of Jan. 1:

• Large employers (501 or more employees): $13.50 if employer pays toward medical benefits; $15 if not.

• Small employers (500 or fewer employees): $11 if employer pays $2/hour toward medical benefits and/or if employee earns $2/hour in tips; $13 otherwise.

Who is covered: Almost all employees working within the city.


Minimum wage as of Jan. 1: $15.35 an hour.

Who is covered: Hospitality and transportation workers within the city.


Minimum wage as of Jan. 1: $11.15 an hour.

Who is covered: Almost all employees who work 80 or more hours per year within the city.

Sources: Initiative 1433; state Department of Labor and Industries; cities of Seattle, SeaTac, Tacoma

Small employers with 500 or fewer workers must pay $13, or $11 an hour if they pay toward medical benefits or if the employee earns tips.

Washington state’s minimum wage, meanwhile, rises 16 percent from the current $9.47 an hour to $11 starting Jan. 1, thanks to Initiative 1433. That measure, which voters statewide approved in November, is to raise the minimum wage over four years to $13.50 by 2020.

The statewide law does not differentiate between large and small employers. The minimum-wage jump will apply to all workers, including those in agriculture, who are at least 16 years old.

Workers under 16 years old can be paid 85 percent of the adult minimum wage, or $9.35 per hour, in 2017, according to the state’s Department of Labor and Industries.

(Even though the wording of I-1433 says the law would apply to those ages 18 and older, the initiative also specifies that the state Department of Labor and Industries would determine the pay for workers under age 18 – something the department already does under state law. The department says current state code already specifies that workers ages 16 and 17 are to be paid the adult minimum wage.)

The department says it received some 1,500 calls in November — far more than usual — from employers seeking clarity on details of the law.

The department has been working to get the word out, including through Spanish-language radio stations and through other state agencies. It also has an employment-standards information line for people with questions: 866-219-7321.

Among the issues causing the most confusion is how the new state minimum wage works in cities with higher minimum wages. In cities that have higher minimums, such as Seattle, SeaTac and Tacoma, the local city laws apply.

The minimum wage for hospitality and transportation workers in SeaTac goes up to $15.35 in January, while the wage for workers in Tacoma goes up to $11.15.

Initiative 1433 also calls for employers to provide paid sick leave, but that portion of the law doesn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2018.

Information in this article, originally published Dec. 12, 2016, was corrected Dec. 13, 2016. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the statewide minimum wage jump to $11, starting in January, applies to workers 18 and older. It applies to workers 16 and older.