The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries announced last week the state’s minimum wage will increase to $14.49 per hour starting Jan. 1, 2022.
State law mandates L&I calculate the minimum wage for the coming year based on the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, according to a press release. L&I compares the CPI-W from August of the previous year to the index for August of the current year to make the calculation.
Based on the calculations, the state’s current minimum wage of $13.69 will go up 5.83 percent next year. According to the announcement, BLS attributed the increase in the price index to more expensive gas, housing, household furnishings and food.
The state minimum wage applies to workers age 16 and older. Under state law, employers can pay 85 percent of the minimum wage to workers ages 14-15. For 2022, the wage for that younger group will be $12.32 per hour.
Cities are able to set minimum wages higher than the state’s, and both Seattle and Sea Tac have higher wages.
For overtime exempt employees
The change in the minimum wage also means an increase in the minimum salary an employee must earn in 2022 to be overtime exempt. This impacts “white collar” positions held by executive, administrative and professional workers plus computer professionals and outside salespeople.
Under the state’s rules governing exemptions to the Minimum Wage Act, salaried exempt employees must earn at least a minimum salary that is established as a multiplier of the minimum wage. Therefore, when the minimum wage increases, so does the salary threshold, according to the press release.
Those rules were updated in 2020. L&I created an eight-year implementation schedule that incrementally raises the multiplier until it reaches 2.5 times in 2028. The pace of the increase is based on the size of the employer.
For 2022, to be exempt from overtime, an employee must earn at least $1,014.30 a week — $52,743.60 a year, or 1.75 times the minimum wage.
Computer professionals who are paid by the hour have a different threshold. The new minimums are a part of changes to the overtime rules that took effect July 1, 2020.
About the minimum wage
The minimum wage applies to most jobs, including those in agriculture. In addition, agricultural workers will be eligible to earn overtime after working more than 55 hours per week, beginning Jan. 1, 2022.
L&I enforces the state’s wage-and-hour laws and investigates all wage-payment complaints.
More information about the minimum wage is available on L&I's website, https://lni.wa.gov/workers-rights/wages/minimum-wage/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery, are details about overtime, rest breaks, meal periods, and information on how to file a complaint. Employers and workers may also call 360-902-5316 or 1-866-219-7321.
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