Living Wage Ordinances in the Public Sector

Source: C.W. Von Bergen, William T. Mawer and Barlow Soper, Public Personnel Management, Vol. 36 no. 3, Fall 2007
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During the last decade more than 100 governmental units (primarily cities) have implemented living wage ordinances. These regulations require private sector employers who receive public funds through subsidies and contracts to pay their workforces a wage based on “need” rather than “skill.” Such ordinances feature a minimum wage floor that is higher–often much higher–than the traditional minimum wages set by state and federal legislation. This paper provides a history of the living wage movement and presents its benefits and challenges to assist local authorities in decision-making regarding this controversial and politicized issue.

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