Tacoma prepares for minimum wage hike

Tacoma officials want to hear what the public thinks about the plan to hike Tacoma's minimum wage to $10.35 by Feb. 1.

The city of Tacoma wants to hear what the public thinks about the plan to hike Tacoma's minimum wage to $10.35 by Feb. 1.  There will be two public information sessions at the Downtown Tacoma Public Library, one Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and another Thursday at 2:00 p.m.

Initiative 1B called for the Tacoma minimum wage to increase to $10.35 per hour on Feb. 1, 2016, to $11.15 on Jan. 1, 2017, and to $12 on Jan. 1, 2018. In November, voters passed the initiative and an eventual minimum wage increase to $12.

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Seattle now has a $12 minimum wage, which will reach $15 an hour by 2019 for most employers.

New research by the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests the Seattle-Everett-Bellevue market lost restaurant jobs through most of 2015 with a rebound in November and December.

Paul Guppy with the Washington Policy Center said that shows the minimum wage is making it harder for entry level workers to find a job, and businesses are having to adjust their bottom lines to make the wage increase work.

"It hurt the community because it takes away opportunity, exactly for the people who need it the most," Guppy said. "Unemployment for minority youth and the young people who are just starting out is twice the rate as other people in the economy. That's all hidden because Seattle is booming."