Montgomery County, Maryland will now require most companies conducting business with the county to pay their workers a living wage, more than twice the rate set by the federal minimum wage, now $5.15/hour. The legislation faced steep opposition from business leaders who fear that the living wage will increase costs and force businesses to cut jobs. Supporters, including anti-poverty activists, countered that a living wage would help eradicate poverty for those stuck in low-paying jobs. After three years of wrangling over living wage legislation, the Montgomery County Council finally passed a proposal that will benefit the poor and ultimately the community.
“When workers are paid a living wage, the whole community benefits,” said council member Phillip Andrews of Rockville, Maryland. “Workers can support their families; organizations become more productive because they have less turnover.” Currently, 70 cities and counties nationwide have adopted “living wage” legislation. Officials from Alexandria, Virginia claim that the quality of work has improved since implementing a living wage there. Baltimore, Maryland, the first city to enact a living wage, also reported benefits from the legislation without increased burden on local taxpayers.