Res Publica - Journal of Undergraduate Research


Since 1994, 130 municipalities have adopted living wage ordinances, which mandate that covered workers receive an hourly wage providing enough income to keep the individual above the poverty line. This study identifies what factors have lead to the proliferation of living wage laws across the United States while also determining what characteristics have prompted some municipalities to pass living wage ordinances while others have not. This research also considers the impact of living wages on municipalities that have adopted such laws. To further elucidate the issues associated with living wage ordinances, two cities—Baltimore and Los Angeles—are examined as case studies. Ultimately, this study concludes that municipalities that have adopted living wage laws share several characteristics and that living wage ordinances have provided significant benefits at relatively small costs.