Montgomery County, currently in the process of slowly raising its minimum wage to $11.50/hour by 2017, will now consider continuing to gradually increase it to $15/hour by 2020.
Montgomery County will join the District of Columbia in considering legislation to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, placing the Washington region in the middle of a national debate over the possible economic impact of such a hike.
County Council member Marc Elrich (D-At Large), the architect of an unusual 2013 collaboration by Montgomery, the District and Prince George’s County to gradually raise the minimum to $11.50, said he expects to introduce the $15-an-hour bill as early as next week.
Elrich said that while the 2013 increase was an important step, there is now wider recognition that the minimum must be closer to a “living wage.”
“The amount of money a person earns should be sufficient to live on,” Elrich said. “I think there’s a broader understanding that you need to tackle wages to deal with poverty.”
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Montgomery’s minimum wage is set to rise from $9.55 to $10.75 an hour in July and to $11.50 a year later. A full-time minimum-wage worker earning $15 per hour would have an annual income of about $30,000 — still quite low in a county where the household median is just under $100,000.
Prince George’s County, which along with the District and Montgomery County formed a regional compact in 2013, won’t be joining this new effort.
Prince George’s County Council Chairman Derrick Leon Davis (D-Mitchellville) said it is unlikely that his jurisdiction will join the latest effort.
The county, he said, is currently facing too many economic uncertainties to justify another increase. Moreover, nonprofit providers of services to the developmentally disabled are already saying that without more help from the government, they will be unable to keep pace with the current schedule of wage increases.
“Our realities are catching up with us right now,” Davis said. “At this time, it would be imprudent to take another step in that direction.”