by Micheal Reich and Ken Jacobs
“In the face of congressional inaction, the debate on raising the minimum wage is moving to the local level. As more cities and counties consider setting their own wage standards, they can learn from the policy experiments already underway.
Since the mid-1980s, states in every region of the country have raised the local minimum wage, often numerous times. Twenty-one states (and Washington, D.C.) currently have wage floors above the federal level ($7.25), and 11 of these raise them every year to account for inflation. Washington State currently has the highest, at $9.32; California’s is set to increase to $10 on July 1, 2016.
More than 120 cities and counties have adopted living wage laws that set pay standards, many of them in the $12 to $15 range. These higher standards usually apply only to employees of city service contractors, like security guards, landscapers and janitors. In some cities, living wage laws cover workers at publicly owned airports or stadiums, as well as at shopping malls subsidized by local development funds. While the impact on the individual workers covered under these laws is often quite significant, their reach is rarely broad enough to affect the local low-wage labor market as a whole.”