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Arlington's Living Wage: Who is it really helping?

On June 30, the Arlington County Board chairman gave a "State of the County" speech at Arlington's Chamber of Commerce. The July 28 edition of the Arlinton Sun-Gazette (second item) reports that although questions for the Board chairman were submitted beforehand, he was unable to answer questions about the cost or the number of beneficiaries of the county-determined minimum wage who live outside the county. After almost a month, county staff finally determined that 23 full-time and 188 temporary county government workers benefited from the County Board's social engineering legislation. The cost? $250,000. However, county staff could not determine how many of the contractor employees receiving the socialistic living wage reside outside of the county. Now comes a new study from the Employment Policy Institute (link is to the executive summary, but access to the entire report is provided, Adobe required). The authors of the study "found that living wage ordinances do little to actually increase the standard of living for low-income families." This occurs because "for every dollar in increased earnings from a living wage ordinance, families can expect to lose up to $2.12 in cash assistance" benefits. In summany, "the authors have found that living wage ordinances do little to actually increase the standard of living for low-income families." We growled about this bit of county social engineering on several occasions, most recently on July 10, but also as long ago as August 2003.