$15 Minimum Wage Supporters Win Huge Victory In DC

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The Council of the District of Columbia approved a measure raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour Tuesday, and there’s already concern it will lead to massive layoffs.

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the successful passage during a press conference at her office. She has already promised to sign the bill once it arrives at her desk. Proponents have pushed the capital to enact the increase as a way to help address income inequality while opponents warn it could severely limit job opportunities.

“I see how much it costs to live in Washington, D.C., and that cost is only going up,” Bowser said, according to ABC News. “Even at $15, it’s tough to be able to afford to live in Washington, D.C.”

The Employment Policies Institute found in a report May 6 previous minimum wage increases already caused problems. The city raised its minimum wage from $8.25 to $11.50 since 2014. Nearly half of the 100 employers surveyed in the report said they had to reduce staff or cut hours. The report warns the $15 minimum wage will make the problem worse.

“Today’s vote that was orchestrated by big labor and the DC City Council is a blow to hard working employees and employers across the District,” America Rising Squared Communications Director Jeremy Adler told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Because of this dramatic hike in the minimum wage, low-income workers are going to have fewer opportunities.”

America Rising is a nonprofit research group that promotes conservative policies. Studies have shown both positive and negative outcomes when it comes to the $15 minimum wage, and it is generally agreed job loss is a potential risk because of the increased cost of labor. University of California, Berkeley found the losses are marginal compared to the potential benefit. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found any increase in the minimum wage will likely result in at least some job loss.

“DC businesses will be forced to cut back and eliminate jobs,” Adler continued. “Surveys have shown that District business leaders were very wary about the economic consequences of a $15 minimum wage and those negative consequences are now likely to come as a result of the council’s actions today.”

DC will be joining a handful of other cities which have also enacted the policy, starting with Seattle in June, 2014. New York and California became the first states Apr. 4 to enact a $15 minimum wage.

The union-backed Fight for $15 movement has been at the forefront of the policy push. The movement utilized protests and media campaigns to push the policy. It claimed to be a grassroots movement, but has been criticized for receiving significant funds from the Service Employees International Union.

The National Bureau of Economic Research and The Heritage Foundation determined the impact of a higher minimum wage is especially bad for young and low-skilled workers. The White House Council of Economic Advisers warned in a report Feb. 22 that low-skilled workers are the most at risk of being replaced by computers.

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