A minimum wage initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot could boost pay for thousands of low-wage Kitsap County workers, according to analysis by a state economist.
But nailing down exactly how many jobs would be affected if the initiative passed is no easy task.
If approved, Initiative 1433 would incrementally increase the state’s minimum wage from the current $9.47 an hour to $13.50 an hour in 2020.
To help understand the implications of the initiative, state Employment Security Department economist Scott Bailey created a hypothetical scenario in which a $13.50 minimum wage was applied to 2015 labor markets in each county. He used a $12.23 minimum wage to account for inflation between 2015 and 2020.
For job and wage data, Bailey turned to a database of quarterly wage records.
The records include most jobs covered by unemployment insurance, but exclude federal jobs, private household employment like nannying, and home health care workers.
Bailey also noted the records capture three-month periods, which makes it difficult to create an exact point-in-time job count, since individuals move in and out of labor markets, and many jobs are short-term.
With all those caveats in mind, here were key takeaways from Bailey’s analysis of Kitsap County’s labor market in 2015:
— Somewhere between 3 percent and 6 percent of non-federal jobs in Kitsap paid minimum wage ($9.47, plus or minus 18 cents).
— Somewhere between 19 percent and 26 percent of non-federal jobs paid less than $12.23 an hour (the equivalent of $13.50 in 2020). That was between 9,000 and 19,000 jobs.
— Jobs paying less than $12.23 an hour accounted for 8 percent of Kitsap’s non-federal payroll.
— Payroll would have to increase by about 1.2 percent to meet the minimum wage requirement under 1433, a change of about $29.7 million.
Bailey also took a statewide look at what industries would most be affected by the minimum wage hike, again using 2015 labor market numbers.
This chart shows the percentage of jobs by industry paying less than $12.23 an hour (the equivalent of $13.50 in 2020):