A Maryland county could lose an estimated 47,000 jobs by 2022 if it chooses to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, according to a new study released Tuesday evening. The Washington Post reports that the study, which Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) commissioned, found that the majority of positions that would be eliminated were low-wage jobs. Leggett decided to move forward with the study after he vetoed a minimum wage increase in January. In explaining his decision to veto the minimum wage increase, he said the wage hike would devastate the economy in Montgomery County. PFM, the Philadelphia-based consulting group that carried out the study, found that a minimum wage hike to $15 would lead to a $396.5 million loss of income in Montgomery County by 2022. The loss of income would come from businesses deciding to lay off employees, cut hours and benefits for those that remain, and nix plans to hire new workers and open new locations. “We can’t minimize some of the impacts outlined here,” said Leggett, responding to the study’s results. “Even if it’s not 47,000 jobs lost, even if it’s half that, those are some startling numbers. You can’t discount it all.” County council member Marc Elrich, however, remains unconvinced of the study’s findings. Elrich proposed a bill that would raise the minimum wage in Montgomery County to $15 by 2022 a week before the study was due. He called the PFM study “nonsense,” saying it was impossible to predict how a wage increase would impact the future. Elrich also claimed that the study was biased because employers would be more likely to respond negatively. PFM’s study was conducted from April to June using electronic surveys, phone, and in-person interviews with business and nonprofit owners and community leaders. Several studies on minimum wage hikes conclude that they are bad for business — both for employers and employees. A Harvard Business School study from April found that minimum wage laws increase the chance that non-elite restaurants will go out of business. A June study from the University of Washington found that Seattle’s minimum wage hike is cutting employees’ salaries by $125 a month.
Raising the minimum wage arbitrarily is a foolish thing. But, it’s trendy and popular in big cities and blue states where Dems are in control. So, kudos to Mr. Leggett (D) in Montgomery County, Maryland for putting common sense ahead of a failed liberal Democrat agenda item. Wages should be determined by the free marketplace; NOT some politician or silly, however popular, ballot initiative.