Arrow-right Camera


In brief: Minimum wage holds at $8.55

Washington’s minimum wage will not increase next year for the first time since voters in 1998 authorized annual adjustments to track inflation.

The Department of Labor and Industries said Tuesday the consumer price index for the 12 months that ended Aug. 31 declined 1.9 percent, compared with a 5.9 percent increase for the period that ended Aug. 31, 2008.

That led to a 48-cent-per-hour increase, which raised the wage for 2009 to $8.55, where it will remain through 2010.

The minimum wage applies to all workers except 14- and 15-year-olds, who get $7.27 per hour, 85 percent the adult rate.

Bert Caldwell

Green award goes to goats

The 240 goats of Healing Hooves LLC got something new to chew on last week; a victory in the Natural Resources category of Seattle Business magazine’s Green Washington 2009 awards.

Their normal diet is invasive and noxious weeds growing on lots as small as two acres and as large as 20, said Craig Madsen, who with wife Sue Lani Madsen founded the business in 2002.

From May into October, Madsen trucks the goats around Washington, he said. They gobble up blackberry, thistle and other weeds in areas around housing and riparian areas unsuitable for mechanized devices or chemicals.

In Lincoln County, the goats have been used in a study of leafy spurge infestation control.

The mostly Boer and Spanish goats are bred at the Madsen’s Edwall home during the off season, Craig said.

There were 147 entries in the magazine’s nine contest categories.

Bert Caldwell

FDIC seeks early bank premiums

Washington – Federal regulators on Tuesday proposed raising an additional $45 billion from the nation’s banks to help rebuild the fund that insures customer deposits as an increasing number of failures threaten to drain the fund’s reserves.

The board of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. voted unanimously to seek public comment on a plan to have banks prepay the next three years of premiums into the agency’s Deposit Insurance Fund. The fund, which insures bank accounts up to $250,000 in case a bank fails, is paid through assessments on financial institutions.

But the financial crisis and deep recession have caused the fund to drop below its mandated level as it has paid to cover deposits at failed banks. So far this year, 94 banks have failed. The FDIC now projects bank failures through 2013 could cost an additional $100 billion, up sharply from the $70 billion projected in May.