Should DC's Mayor Veto 'Living Wage' Bill?

Here's a yes, a no, and something in the middle
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2013 1:48 PM CDT
Should DC's Mayor Veto 'Living Wage' Bill?
A Walmart store in La Habra, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Now that the DC Council has required Walmart and other big-box retailers who want to do business in the city to pay a "living wage" of $12.50 an hour, Mayor Vincent Gray has to decide whether to veto the measure. Walmart is threatening to pull the plug on three of six stores planned for DC if the bill goes through. Some of the pro-and-con arguments:

  • Veto it: DC will lose 900 retail jobs, 600 construction jobs, and much-needed stores selling fresh food in poor neighborhoods, write the editors at Investor's Business Daily. "And contrary to the leftist propaganda put out by unions and other supposedly 'progressive' groups, Walmart does not kill jobs; it creates them." The council move is "anti-business," agrees the Washington Times, which is worried about lost tax revenue.
  • Don't veto it: Opponents of the living wage like to rehash "myths" about the "dire economic consequences" it will bring about, writes Media Matters, which cites several studies finding precisely the opposite to be true in cities that have one in place. (That includes Santa Fe and San Francisco.) In the long run, it ends up helping business by reducing turnover and improving worker performance.

  • It's complicated: "The difficult thing about increasing minimum wages in DC, as opposed to a larger state, is that it’s very easy for retailers to simply set up shop just outside the border in Maryland and Virginia, which means the District loses tax revenue and jobs," writes Lydia DePillis at the Washington Post. Yes, Walmart has a general reputation for killing as many jobs as it creates, and for employing workers who still require public benefits. But the chain probably isn't bluffing about bailing on those three stores, and they're slated for neighborhoods that offer little else to residents. There's no denying the "negative consequences" for DC if they never appear.
(More living wage stories.)

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