New Study: $15 Minimum Wage is the Single Best Option to Reduce Seattle's Gender and Race Pay Gap

April 17, 2014 -- Partnership for Working Families

A new study by Puget Sound Sage concludes that a $15/hour minimum wage would create large scale benefits for women and people of color in Seattle, and effectively narrow the city's gender and race pay gaps.  In a policy brief released recently, Puget Sound Sage examines the potential outcomes of a $15 minimum wage on the local economy, assesses outcomes by industry sector, and demonstrates that a $15 minimum wage (with a phase-in only approach) is the single best option to reduce Seattle's gender and race pay gap.

Key findings from the policy brief include:

  • $526 million dollars will be added to the paychecks of Seattle’s lowest wage workers: a wage increase that is significant for low-income families trying to make ends meet, but represents only 1.7% of Seattle employers’ total payroll costs. 
  • This infusion of new earnings will result in worker spending and re-spending, creating a total ripple effect of $625 million dollars to the regional economy.
  • Women or and people of color living in Seattle currently earn between 44% and 71% of what white men earn.  
  • The over-representation of women and people of color in low-wage industries, such as food services, likely explains much of this pay gap.
  • Raising the minimum wage is the fastest and most targeted policy option to narrow the gender and race pay gap.

The brief concludes that a well-crafted, phased-in increase in the minimum wage can support a thriving economy.

The full report is available at