Community leaders in Seattle have vocalized desires to raise minimum wage, and now leaders in Maryland have instigated the process to implement policies that increase wages. Presently, the federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 per hour though some states have set the level higher. On December 17, 2013, a representative from Prince George’s County signed a document to increase minimum wage in the area to $11.50 by 2017. Likewise, another county in Maryland (Montgomery County) signed documents to also increase minimum wage.
Economic Policy Institute analyst David Cooper said, “We estimate that only about 10 percent of the workers earning less than $12 per hour in Montgomery County are teens.”
According to the president and CEO of the chamber of commerce for Prince George’s County, David Harrington, there needs to be a balance between satisfying the needs of employees and determining the functioning level of viability for employers. “Clearly there’s a need for an increase, but what is the level to which businesses can still create jobs even while paying a higher wage,” Harrington said in an interview with CNNMoney.
The city council for Washington D.C. also approved increasing the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour on Tuesday. The bill will now be sent to Mayor Vincent Gray who has been outspoken against raising the minimum wage to an amount as high as $11.50. Mayor Gray had previously proposed increasing the minimum wage to $10 an hour in order to determine how an increase would influence the labor market. While Mayor Gray has the potential to veto this bill, the council could then opt to override the veto.
Council member Tommy Wells spoke about his support for this legislation. , “I had the leadership to get nine votes…I led the first bill to show I could get this done. I promised I’d get this done, and I’m getting it done today,” Wells said.
Council member Vincent B. Orange said, “This is legislation introduced by me.” Orange added that the underlying support behind this process is “not leaving people behind” in the midst of the present economic climate.
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