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by Mark Reutter3:47 pmDec 18, 20180

Baltimore to raise “living wage” on some city contracts to $12.06 an hour

For most low-skill jobs, Maryland’s minimum wage rate of $10.10 an hour will remain the same next year

Above: Sign on a gas station in southeast Baltimore. (Brew file photo)

Effective July 1, 2019, Baltimore will increase the “living wage” paid on some city contracts from $11.81 to $12.06 per hour, or 25 cents.

The new wage covers only “service contracts” designated by the Board of Estimates.

Otherwise, the minimum wage in the city will remain at the state level of $10.10 an hour, including for municipal employees who are paid the minimum wage.

Vetoed Bill

Last year, the City Council passed a bill that would have raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022.

After promising to support the measure while running for mayor, Catherine Pugh vetoed it, saying it would drive away private employers, impact negatively on the municipal budget (by raising the pay of several hundred minimum-wage city jobs), and potentially push residential water rates up even higher.

Montgomery County is now the only jurisdiction in Maryland with its own minimum wage, set at $12.00 and $12.25 an hour depending on the size of the employer.

Poverty Threshold

Baltimore’s Living Wage Law, which covers service contracts recommended by the city purchasing agent and designated by the Board of Estimates, is based on the “poverty threshold” defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.

That threshold currently is $24,563 a year for a family of four. Based on inflation and other factors, the city’s Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement Office has recommended a 2.16% increase in the poverty threshold.

That makes for a $12.06 an hour rate based on 2,080 hours (a 40-hour week x 52 weeks).

The Board of Estimates is set to approve the new rate tomorrow.

MIT: $18 is a Living Wage

Such wages are a far cry from the “Living Wage Calculation for Baltimore City” developed by the Urban Studies and Planning Department at MIT.

Researchers used a range of government and private data to calculate the costs of food, housing, child care, health care, transportation, and other necessities over a range of different household arrangements.

For a single adult in 2017, the living wage was $13.28 an hour. For a single adult supporting three children, the wage was $40.24 an hour.

In the case of two adults supporting two children and each working the same 2,080 hours a year used by the city, the researchers came up with a “living wage” of slightly under $18 an hour.

Here is more about how the MIT chart, based on 2017 data, was determined.

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