City Governments Are Maximizing Minimum Wages

I’ve noticed a handful of news items recently on U.S. cities raising minimum wages:

Interestingly, the Missouri state legislature passed a bill – as yet unsigned by the governor – that would prevent cities from enacting minimum wages that exceed the state’s.  So there could be a race to the signing pitting city against state.

In early 2015 The Atlantic ran a piece exploring the issue of differing city and state minimums:

“[T]he level at which a minimum wage is set versus how that wage actually stacks up against living costs…varies not only between states, but between municipalities within states. A broad, state-wide minimum wage might get you a lot more of the basic necessities in some areas, but often leaves those living in pricier, urban locales.”

As I type this I’m sitting in Jackson, Wyoming.  Wyoming living is generally cheap, but everything in Jackson is “tourist prices” and housing is almost untouchable.  (Commercial interruption: good bang for the buck is to be had at Cowboy Coffee, should you ever find yourself here.)  The Atlantic piece continues:

“Critics cite increased costs for businesses that might drive them out of cities and towns that require higher wages, or lead them to hire fewer workers. In 2014, Oklahoma passed a law explicitly prohibiting localities from raising their minimum wages on their own after Oklahoma City proposed an increase. According to the National Employment Law Project, some of the economic fears that surround minimum wage increases—like the possibility of reduced job growth—have yet to appear in cities that have enacted local pay raises.”

Food for thought.

Finally, and on a related note, USA Today recently looked at Obama Administration efforts to bypass state governments and work directly with municipalities on policy change.  Paid sick leave and minimum wage are big issues.


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