Councilwoman Clarke’s Proposed Living Wage Ordinance a Job Killer for Baltimore

“Living Wages” Mean Fewer Jobs for Less Experienced Baltimoreans
  • Publication Date: May 2010

  • Topics: Living Wage

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Monday, Baltimore City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke introduced legislation that requires all large retailers with more than $10 million in annual revenue to pay a “living wage” of $10.19 an hour.

In response, Michael Saltsman, research fellow at the Employment Policies Institute, released the following statement:

Baltimore might be the “Charm City,” but there’s nothing endearing about Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke’s proposed living wage ordinance.

This legislation — which raises the minimum wage for large retailers to $10.19 an hour — will shut a valuable doorway to employment for less-educated or less-experienced Baltimoreans. Chicago’s City Council tried the same tactic a few years ago, and Mayor Daley vetoed it for good reason — the large retailers threatened to take their new store investment dollars to more friendly locations.

It has become abundantly clear from many economic studies over many years that in response to this 40 percent increase in the city’s minimum wage, fewer large retailers will locate in the city proper.

Starting wages are just that. Get hired at the minimum, prove yourself and move up. Get it backwards and you have found a way to drive more jobs over the city line.

With an unemployment rate that’s still above 10 percent, job-killing wage mandates are the last thing that Baltimore needs. Councilwoman Clarke may think she’s doing working Baltimoreans a favor with her living wage ordinance; but a ‘living wage’ is no help at all if you don’t get hired.