Creating Good Jobs in Our Communities – How Higher Wage Standards Affect Economic Development and Employment

Source: T. William Lester and Ken Jacobs, Center for American Progress, November 2010

From the summary:
From sports arenas to high-tech manufacturing zones and from commercial office buildings to big-box retail, local governments spend billions of dollars every year to entice private businesses to invest in their communities and create jobs. Yet these public funds often help create jobs that pay poverty-level wages with no basic benefits.

Cities across the country are working to gain greater control over these projects and help create quality jobs by attaching wage standards to their economic development subsidies. Communities are linking labor standards to public development projects in various ways, including community benefits agreements and prevailing wage laws. But the most common and comprehensive policies are business assistance living wage laws, which require businesses receiving public subsidies to pay workers wages above the poverty level.

These economic development wage standards have successfully raised pay for covered workers. Yet opponents of these standards argue that such laws prevent businesses from creating jobs and thus help some workers at the expense of employing more workers. Some business leaders and developers also claim that adding labor standards to economic development projects will scare away potential investors by sending an “antibusiness” signal.

This report examines these claims and finds that economic development wage standards have no negative effect on citywide employment levels. This casts serious doubt on arguments that standards dampen municipalities’ ability to use subsidies to attract new businesses or create negative business climates where all firms avoid investment.
See also:
Download the introduction and executive summary (pdf)
Download the report to mobile devices and e-readers from Scribd

Leave a Reply