Bellingham, Wash., Minimum Wage Law in 2024

By Lindsy Wayt
Published Dec. 5, 2023

Bellingham Washington Minimum Wage 2024

Following a voter-approved ballot measure, Bellingham, Wash., will have a new minimum wage rate in 2024. 

Starting May 1, 2024, Bellingham, Washington, will join other jurisdictions in the state with its own minimum wage rate, a result of a voter-approved ballot measure in November 2023.

Bellingham’s new minimum wage law, influenced by the growing trend of putting such laws before voters, presents unique aspects for employers to consider.

Washington State itself also has its own minimum wage rate, which plays into the latest update from Bellingham.  

Minimum Wage Management. Simplified. 

Bellingham, Wash., Minimum Wage Law
Effective Date and Initial Increase:

Bellingham’s minimum wage law departs from the common January 1 or July 1 updates, implementing the first new rate and a subsequent increase on May 1, 2024.

Employers will have to note several aspects of the new law.  

What is the minimum wage in Bellingham, Washington in 2024?

Following the initial rate on May 1, 2024, Bellingham’s minimum wage will be tied to the Washington State minimum wage rate.

  • May 1, 2024: $17.28
  • May 1, 2025: Washington State minimum wage plus $2

After that point, the city will move its increases to Jan. 1 each year. 

Annual Increases from 2026:

Starting January 1, 2026, Bellingham will synchronize its increases with the start of each year, maintaining the minimum wage as the Washington State rate plus $2.

It is a unique method of crafting a minimum wage law. And it also highlights the challenges for employers operating across the U.S. when it comes to managing minimum wage rates.  

Washington State Tip Credit Reminder:

As a reminder, Washington State does not allow employers to take a tip credit.  

Bellingham Comparison with Other Rates
(Effective Jan. 1, 2024):

For reference, the other rates for large employers in Washington State, effective Jan. 1, 2024, are: 

  • Washington State – $16.28 
  • Tukwila – $20.29 
  • SeaTac – $19.71 
  • Seattle – $19.97 

Compliance Challenges:

Employers operating in Bellingham must navigate the unique minimum wage landscape, especially with rates tethered to Washington State.

Washington State’s high minimum wage rates necessitate diligent compliance monitoring for employers with multi-jurisdictional operations.

State Minimum Wage Rates 2024 

Managing Minimum Wage Rates

Managing minimum wage rates has never been more challenging for employers. 

Look to the activation of an emergency minimum wage rate in Portland, Maine, as an example, along with California’s $20 minimum wage for fast food employees. (For another tough minimum wage spot, check out how employers in Hawaii must deal with the state’s complex tipped rate law.) 

With the Bellingham minimum wage rate tied to the state of Washington’s rate in future years, it becomes another unique piece of the compliance puzzle.  

At the same time, without action at the federal level, cities and counties continue to pass their own rates. Plus, more jurisdictions are under indexing requirements, and a new Fight for $20 minimum wage push has developed. 

Employers that operate in jurisdictions across the U.S. must constantly monitor legislative happenings where they have locations — and that includes other types of laws such as paid leave, pay transparency and, of course, the associated labor law posters. 

Guide: Jan. 1, 2024, County and City Minimum Wage Rates 


Employers in Bellingham, Washington, should proactively prepare for upcoming changes in minimum wage rates, considering the unique methodology of its increases. 

With the evolving landscape of minimum wage laws across the U.S., constant vigilance and compliance monitoring remain imperative for businesses operating in multiple jurisdictions.

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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