Scholarly Publications

The Impacts of Living Wage Policies


Since 1994, living wage laws have been passed and implemented in over 100 cities or other local governmental entities in the United States. The typical local living wage law imposes a relatively high mandated wage standard—currently averaging more than $9 an hour—upon a relatively small number of employers—usually those working on service contracts with the city and (in about a fourth of the cities) those receiving financial assistance from the city. Major cities in the United States that have living wage laws include Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York, Oakland, Portland, Rochester, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, St. Louis, and Tucson. In all, the cities that have passed living wage laws comprise about two-fifths of the population of large U.S. cities. Campaigns for local or statewide living wage laws are also in varying stages of development in nearly 100 localities and in a dozen or more states.

Citation: Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, 44(1):1–13. January 2005.