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Renton’s $19 minimum wage measure leading in early vote tallies

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(The Center Square) – Voters are approving a ballot measure that would increase the minimum wage in the City of Renton to nearly $19 an hour, according to initial election results. As of Wednesday, 58% of voters were saying yes to the measure.

If passed, the city’s minimum wage would increase from the statewide minimum wage of $16.28 to $18.99 for employers with more than 500 employees.

A person working 40 hours a week at the $18.99 minimum wage rate would make approximately $39,500 per year.

Assuming passage, Renton would join neighboring Tukwila in raising its minimum wage for large employers to $18.99. Tukwila’s minimum wage hike, passed overwhelmingly by voters in November 2022, went into effect on July 1, 2023.

Last year, Renton officials conducted outreach with business owners, which revealed their goods may increase in costs as a result of a higher minimum wage.

Most businesses indicated that the added expenses included with a potential minimum wage increase would be passed onto their customers, as previously reported by The Center Square. This ranges from food prices to the cost of child care services.

In a formal statement of opposition, Diane Dobson and Ramandeep Mann of the No On Initiative 23-02 campaign said that the minimum wage increase threatens the city’s workforce and would result in job losses and reduced hours for employees. That would cause, they said, an unstable economy for small businesses and residents within the city.

According to the Raise the Wage Renton campaign, the current minimum wage rate of $16.28 would require a full-time minimum wage employee to work 77 hours a week in order to make $5,432 per month and rent a modest one-bedroom apartment in King County.

At the county level, a proposed ordinance is still being considered by the King County Council that would establish an hourly minimum wage rate of $20.29 in 2024. The legislation has been referred to the King County Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee for further discussions.