Housing Complex

Gray Signs Minimum Wage Bill. What’s It Mean for D.C. Workers?

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After many months of competing proposals and Walmart drama, Mayor Vince Gray signed a bill this morning to raise D.C.'s minimum wage. So what actually changes, and what doesn't? Here's a rundown of what the legislation means for D.C. workers.

How much more do D.C. employers now have to pay?

Nothing, yet. The current D.C. minimum wage of $8.25 an hour stays on the books until July 1, when it rises to $9.50. A year later, it goes up another dollar, and a year later, another, to $11.50 on July 1, 2016.

And it stays at $11.50 thereafter?

Only if the economy does something weird. The bill states, "Beginning on July 1, 2017 and no later than July 1 of each successive year, the minimum wage provided in this subsection shall be increased in proportion to the annual average increase, if any, in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers in the Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor for the previous calendar year." In other words, the wage will rise with inflation. And so as long as the economy doesn't hit some sort of deflationary spiral, the wage will continue to go up.

Is every D.C. worker affected?

No. D.C.'s 1992 minimum wage law, to which the new bill is technically just a revision, carves out certain exceptions. That law states:

The minimum wage and overtime provisions of § 32-1003 shall not apply with respect to:
(1) Any employee employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity, or in the capacity of outside salesman (as these terms are defined by the Secretary of Labor under 201 et seq. of the Fair Labor Standards Act); or
(2) Any employee engaged in the delivery of newspapers to the home of the consumer.

Additionally, tipped workers' gratuities can be factored into their wages, allowing them to be paid less in direct wages than the legal minimum.

How many D.C. residents will benefit?

It's hard to say exactly. But one educated back-of-the-envelope calculation recently put the figure at around 40,000 D.C. residents, not counting commuters who also stand to gain.

How does this compare to other cities and states?

As things currently stand, it'll be the highest minimum wage in the country. But there's a push in Seattle for a $15 minimum wage, and Washington State is considering a wage hike that could top $11.50 ever so slightly. And the Los Angeles city council will soon weigh a bill to raise the minimum wage above $15 for certain workers that could be expanded to all workers.

Photo from @mayorvincegray Twitter feed

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