Editor’s note: The following commentary aired on WYPR.org on June 28, 2016.
A proposal to raise the minimum wage in Baltimore City to $15 per hour will hurt businesses and could lead to job losses.
Members of the Baltimore City Council would be wise to defeat this proposal for many reasons.
First, it is estimated that Baltimore City government’s personnel costs would increase by over $150 million over a five year phase-in period.
Second, the $15-per-hour minimum wage would make Baltimore City an island surrounded by neighboring counties with a much lower minimum wage.
The proposal would raise the cost of doing business for employers in the city forcing them to increase prices for the goods and services they provide, cut back on benefits and job openings, reduce current workforce levels, or a combination of those actions.
Businesses located in surrounding counties already enjoy lower costs of doing business and lower taxes.
Passage of the legislation would only add to the competitive disadvantage currently facing Baltimore companies.
Another reason the proposal is ill-timed is because state law is already in effect phasing in raises to the minimum wage with full implementation topping out at $10.10 per hour in July 1, 2018.
It would be prudent for the city council to let employers in Baltimore adjust to the state law before any further action is taken.
In the interim, the private sector and city council should work together to improve opportunities for low wage workers, while allowing businesses to do what they do best: create jobs and grow the economy.
I’m Don Fry, President and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee.
Listen to the commentary here.