Aug 31, 2023 - News

Washington among top states for workers, report finds

Illustration of a person wearing a red necktie with a smiley face pattern.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Washington is among the best states in the country for workers based on its high minimum wage and robust employee protections.

Driving the news: The global anti-poverty organization Oxfam on Thursday released its annual Best States to Work Index that looks at wage policies, worker protections and rights to organize.

  • Washington placed fifth behind California, Oregon, District of Columbia and New York.
  • That's down two spots from last year, when Washington came in third place.
  • The worst states for workers this year are Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina, per the report.

Go deeper: In previous years, Washington gained points from being one of only a few states with policies protecting pregnant and breastfeeding workers, said Kaitlyn Henderson, senior research adviser with Oxfam America's US Domestic Policy Program and the report's lead author.

What they're saying: "Washington had both policies before the federal mandates took effect, and thus benefitted from the inclusion of those criteria in our past rankings," Henderson told Axios.

Details: Washington state received the second highest marks for wages in the country following Washington D.C., which just instituted a minimum wage of $17 an hour. Washington state's minimum wage, at $15.74, remains more than double the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

  • Washington also performed well because of its worker protections, which include paid family and medical leave, as well as a heat standard to help protect people working outdoors in extreme weather.

Yes, but: No state's minimum wage covers the cost of living, Oxfam says.

  • A minimum wage worker in Washington is able to cover only 37.6% of the cost of living for a family of four​​, per the report.

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