• Washington and Oregon Increased Their Minimum-Wage Rates Effective January 1, 2006
  • January 4, 2006
  • Law Firm: Miller Nash LLP - Seattle Office
  • Washington and Oregon increased their state minimum-wage rates to $7.63 per hour in Washington and $7.50 per hour in Oregon on January 1, 2006. Hourly rates for both states are adjusted annually based on cost-of-living increases over the prior 12 months, as a result of initiatives adopted earlier in both states. With the new rate, Washington retains the highest minimum-wage rate in the nation at $7.63, almost 50 percent higher than the federal minimum-wage rate of $5.15.

    Alaska's minimum wage, previously the highest, has remained at $7.15 since 2003, when the legislature removed its annual cost-of-living adjustment.

    All the Pacific Coast states and many of the New England, Mid-Atlantic, and Upper Midwest states have state minimum wages above the federal $5.15-per-hour rate. Virtually all other states, however, either do not have a state minimum-wage rate or have a minimum hourly rate set at or below the federal rate. The federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour has not been increased since 1997.

    Washington employers must raise all hourly rates to at least $7.63 from $7.35, the minimum-wage rate for 2005. Oregon employers must comply with the $7.50 rate, which replaces the 2005 rate of $7.25.