Living Wages

Living Wages

Living wage policies have been established in cities, counties, school districts, states and other public agencies throughout the country to lift workers out of poverty.  Most living wage laws set minimum wage and benefit standards for public contracts, subsidies and leaseholders on public land. Several are based upon a geographic zone. Today there are over 150 such laws in place.

Commentary

Living Wage has brought good competition to Los Angeles International Airport

L.A.'s Living Wage Ordinance Isn't a Job Killer

September 21, 2011
minimum wage photo

Crying Wolf Over Higher Wages in a Time of Need

December 09, 2010

Cry Wolf Quotes

By mandating an even higher minimum, the living wage prices even more people out of work. The people who push these cockamamie ideas never seem to ask why any employer would hire someone at $8.23 if that person's services are only valued in the marketplace at, say, $5.00.

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Lawrence W. Reed. Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
05/03/1999 | Full Details | Law(s): Living Wage

A poorly crafted ‘living wage’ plan could achieve the opposite of its well-intentioned social goals. It could result in fewer good-paying jobs in the city, and less opportunity at the entry level. It could drive up the cost of city programs, leaving fewer resources to help lower-income families.

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Editorial. San Francisco Chronicle.
11/11/1998 | Full Details | Law(s): Living Wage

The ordinance would cost the city [Chicago] nearly $20 million per year. The city would spend more than 20% of this amount ($4.2 million) on the administrative costs of certification, monitoring, and enforcement of the ordinance. This $20 million cost would require a permanent tax increase on citizens of Chicago.

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George Tolley, Peter Bernstein, and Michael Lesage.
07/01/1999 | Full Details | Law(s): Living Wage

Unfortunately, living wage laws may have an unintended consequence of causing low-wage workers to be replaced by higher skilled, more educated workers. Living wage ordinances hit hardest at new entrants to the labor force.

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Petition Opposing Living Wage Ordinance, Palm Beach County, Florida. Signed by groups including Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce; Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches; Northern Palm Beaches Chamber of Commerce; Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce; Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County, Inc.; Palm Beach County Hotel & Lodging Association; Florida Retail Federation; Florida Chamber of Commerce; Boynton Beach Chamber of Commerce; Jupiter Tequesta Juno Beach Chamber of Commerce; Sugar Cane Growers Co-Op; Palms West Chamber of Commerce.
10/02/2002 | Full Details | Law(s): Living Wage

Related Laws and Rules

Evidence

Backgrounders & Briefs

Living Wage Policy Brief: Stephanie Luce

Living wage ordinances have helped thousands of workers and tiresome cry wolf claims are wrong.

Resources

Political Economy Research Institute is a think tank focused on a variety of subjects such as diverse financial regulation, living wages and environmental protection.

University of California-Berkeley Labor Center carries out research on labor and workplace-related issues.

The National Employment Law Project is an organization that promotes economically just public policy in the face of the prevailing trends of the law several decades.