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Living Wage Laws & Communities

  • Andrew J. Elmore
Published: November 1, 2003

In one of the most pronounced local policy trends in recent years, scores of cities and counties across the United States—­more than one hundred as of July 2003—have adop­ted local “living wage” laws. Under these laws, employ­ers receiv­ing city contracts or city busi­ness subsidies must pay full-time work­ers a wage suffi­cient to support them­selves and their famil­ies at a subsist­ence level.

The policy goals driv­ing these initi­at­ives—that hard work should be rewar­ded with adequate pay and bene­fits, and that taxpayer dollars should not support jobs that leave work­ers and famil­ies in pover­ty—have found broad support among local lawmakers and the public.