December 2, 2019
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State minimum wage scheduled to rise to $13.50 in new year, increasing cost challenges for employers

The next scheduled bump in the state's minimum wage from voter-approved I-433 will take effect Jan. 1. The minimum wage will increase $1.50, from $12 to $13.50 per hour.

The increases will continue, as the Department of Labor & Industries is required to make cost-of-living increases to the minimum wage continuing beyond 2021, based on the consumer price index.

In an analysis of the minimum wage increase, The Columbian notes that employers will also see the need to increase wages for more experienced workers who make more than minimum wage. To avoid "wage compression," employers will have to raise wages for higher-paid employees to ensure that they aren't paid the same as "some kid coming out of high school with no experience."

As the minimum wage increases, businesses feel greater pressure, and some of them close down, according to Michael Saltsman, managing director of the Employment Policies Institute.

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Cross-laminated timber can help the Northwest lead on the Green New Deal

By Seattle City Councilmember Abel Pacheco and his director of communications, Conor Bronsdon

We live in a region of pioneers and conservationists in a land built on the back of the timber industry. The idea of sustainable working forests fits not just our historical industrial strengths, it fits our regional ethos. In the Pacific Northwest, we want to live green. It's time for Seattle to take the lead on mass timber. With cross-laminated timber (CLT) and other mass timber products we can move to solve our housing crisis, develop needed density, and address climate change -- all while staying true to our regional culture and history.

By using CLT in the development of much-needed housing we will actively remove and store carbon from the atmosphere -- every cubic meter of timber growth captures one ton of carbon from the atmosphere. Construction would simultaneously emit less carbon.

Encouraging CLT usage could also jump-start stalled rural economies that have languished since the logging industry slowed down. Construction startup Katerra opened the nation's largest capacity CLT manufacturing facility in Spokane and Vaagen Brothers Lumber, which has been in Washington for four generations, is expanding CLT production operations in Colville. With the state making code changes fall that allow for the use of mass timber in buildings as tall as 18 stories, the region is primed to use CLT to address our affordable housing crisis.

Read the full op-ed in The Puget Sound Business Journal
A more resilient workforce

Prepare students for technical careers

By The Seattle Times editorial board

Once, all it took to secure a satisfying and well-paying job was a high school diploma and a good work ethic. But that story has largely changed.

That's why Washington's public schools must offer robust, high-quality Career and Technical Education programs to help prepare the state's vocationally minded students for career success.

A college education should be within reach of all students with the aptitude and interest to pursue a four-year degree, but not everyone wants to follow that path. At the same time, there is a high and consistent workforce demand for skilled tradespeople, without whom Washington's economy would shudder to a halt.

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times.