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Research Report

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.