Minimum Wage Impact Study Requested by County Executive Ike Leggett Released

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Minimum Wage Impact Study Requested by County Executive Ike Leggett Released 

On August 1, a report commissioned by County Executive Ike Leggett was released concerning the likely impacts of a proposed County minimum wage increase. 

Since 2014, the County minimum wage increased from $8.40 an hour to $11.50 an hour – a 37 percent increase. A proposed increase to $15 would increase the rate another 30 percent.

In December 2016, the County Council voted narrowly, by 5-4, to increase the County’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. County Executive Leggett, while supporting an increase in principle, vetoed the bill. He questioned whether there might be  unintended consequences and impacts on businesses in general and small businesses in particular. He was also concerned about the costs of the increase to County taxpayers and whether a higher minimum wage would adversely affect the existence of entry-level jobs, especially for County youth.

County Executive Leggett commissioned this independent report, the results of which he has called “comprehensive and compelling,” to find the answers to just those questions.

“This is a valuable contribution to the debate we will have this fall,” said Leggett. “This is information we should have had before. I look forward to working with the Council in the fall to resolve this issue.”

According to the study, an increase in the minimum wage to $15 would result in:

  • A loss of 47,000 jobs in the County over the next six years.
  • A net loss of $396.5 million in income earned by County residents.
  • 63 percent of surveyed businesses affected would reduce hiring, 59 percent would reduce hours per employee, 52 percent would reduce existing benefits offered to employees, and 50 percent would increase the job experience required of prospective employees.
  • A loss to the County government in direct income of $41 million, a $10 million increase in County employee costs, and millions more in increases passed along by County contractors to County taxpayers.

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    Patrick Lacefield, Director

    Judy Stiles, Editor