Montgomery County Doubles Down on Misguided $15 Minimum Wage Effort

Councilmember Marc Elrich Introduces a New $15 Minimum Wage Bill Today
  • Publication Date: July 2017

  • Topics: Minimum Wage

Washington D.C. – Today, the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) criticized Montgomery County Councilmember Marc Elrich’s introduction of $15 minimum wage legislation for Montgomery County, Maryland. Montgomery County’s minimum wage is currently $11.50, and the bill requires many businesses to pay $15 per hour by 2020.

This proposal comes after a push for a $15 minimum wage failed earlier in the year when Council Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett vetoed it due to concerns regarding impacts on employers and employees in Montgomery County.

During the last attempt to raise the minimum wage, one Montgomery County Dunkin Donuts franchisee sent a letter to the council explaining it would have to cut 130 jobs, including a production facility in Gaithersburg if a $15 minimum wage were to pass. Further, four Chamber of Commerce COO’s co-authored an op-ed discussing the impacts of a wage increase on employers and employees. Across the country, there are innumerable stories that document the jobs lost in the last two years from wage-raising experiments in New York and California. (Readers can view a selection of them at

memo, regarding an internal study conducted by Montgomery County in January, highlighted that the previous bill would increase the County’s Developmental Disability budget by $21.1 million and increase the cost for Medicaid providers by 5.5 percent.

Although the new bill has a longer timeline for compliance, the modified proposal could end up with results like Seattle, Washington which is also phasing in a $15 wage hike. Last month, a study from researchers at the University of Washington found that affected workers in the city of Seattle were earning $125 less per month and working 3.5 million fewer hours per quarter due to the city’s incoming $15 minimum wage. A recent Harvard study using Yelp data found that minimum wage increases had significantly increased the likelihood of closures of median-rated restaurants in San Francisco; another city which is phasing in a $15 wage hike.

“The economic and anecdotal evidence is clear: A $15 minimum wage costs jobs,” said Michael Saltsman, managing director at EPI, “Cutting off the bottom rung of the career ladder won’t help less-skilled employees in the county, but will entice small businesses to move to Northern Virginia, where the starter labor costs could be less than half of Montgomery’s.”


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The Employment Policies Institute is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to studying public policy issues surrounding employment growth. In particular, EPI focuses on issues that affect entry-level employment. EPI receives support from restaurants, foundations, and individuals.