Living wage laws
- A locally-mandated wage that is higher than state or federal minimum wages
- An alternative measure to state and federal poverty thresholds that incorporates local market-related costs (such as food, childcare, housing transportation, and more) to determine basic living costs and self-sufficiency
Strength of evidence
Evidence level: Strong (second-highest tier)
Strong (second-highest tier)
Ranked as having the second-highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps
Low- and moderate-income adults and families
Outcomes and impact
- Increases wages for covered workers
- Modestly reduces poverty rates
- No significant negative effects on employment or business growth
- Some evidence of lower turnover and higher employee morale
Keys to successful implementation
- Note: This content is under review.
- Partner closely with grassroots organizers, labor rights groups, and others to gather input on local needs and to build a coalition of support for potential policy proposals.
- Engage with the business community early and frequently; clearly communicate the myriad benefits of living wage policies, such as decreased employee turnover and increased productivity, and be prepared for an ongoing dialogue and significant pushback.
- Leverage the power of local government spending to encourage the proliferation of living wages; for instance, apply living wage policies to businesses receiving government contracts and/or those receiving economic development subsidies.
- Consider supplemental compensation to a base living wage, such as additional pay when an employer does not provide health insurance, unpaid and paid days off, and various job protections.
- Develop and communicate enforcement mechanisms and penalties for noncompliance for covered employers.