Minimum wage debate rages on in Seattle

SEATTLE -- Around 700 people filled Town Hall on Wednesday to debate Seattle's minimum wage.

At $9.32 an hour, Washington already has among the highest minimum wages in the country, but some want to see Seattle's minimum wage increased to $15 an hour.

At the Town Hall meeting, some speakers argued that a higher minimum wage would have a number of benefits for both workers and the city in general.

"The fifteen dollars an hour would help me move to a safer neighborhood be able to better care for my child, go back to school and hopefully get a car for decent transportation," one speaker told the panel.

Some business owners warn they'll have to lay off employees, cut hours, or even close their doors if the minimum wage goes up to $15 an hour.

"You can't argue math. I've seen the math at the restaurant I work at. Our profit margins are low and our labor is high. A 60 percent increase in labor means the restaurant is no longer profitable. I'd lose my job," worker J. Boswell said.

Business owners added that if the wage increase is going to happen, it has to happen gradually and that attention should be paid to tips and benefits. However, one small business owner argued the increased wage would help her retain employees.

There are a number of additional public hearings scheduled before recommendations are made to Mayor Ed Murray.