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STUDY: One Of Richest U.S. Counties Would Lose 47,000 Jobs If Minimum Wage Raised to $15

Maryland’s Montgomery County is one of the richest in the nation. The county stretches from the edges of Washington D.C., out past the McMansions in Potomac to the sprawling horse farms in Sunshine and beyond.

The median income in Montgomery County is $95,965, placing it 11th nationwide, according to the 2012 American Community Survey (in all there are eight counties around D.C. in the top 15).

So, they’re rich in Montgomery County. But the county would lose some 47,000 jobs in just five years if the minimum wage went to $15, The Washington Post reported. Of course, many of those jobs would be low-wage positions.

County Executive Isiah Leggett, a Democrat, ordered the study in January after he vetoed an increase to the minimum wage.

Last week, county council member Marc Elrich introduced a new bill to bring the hourly minimum wage up from the current $11.50 to $15. The bill attempted to address opponents’ concerns about the impact of an increase by giving nonprofit organizations, adult day-care providers and companies with fewer than 26 employees until 2022, instead of 2020, to raise wages.

The business community and others who oppose a higher minimum wage criticized Elrich for proposing the legislation days before the study was due. But proponents of raising the wage questioned the value of the study, conducted by the Philadelphia-based economic consulting group PFM, since it asked employers to predict what would happen instead of looking at the impact of an actual wage hike.

PFM found that increasing the minimum wage to $15 would result in an aggregate loss of $396.5 million of income in the county by 2022 as businesses laid off employees, cut remaining employee hours and benefits, and suspended plans to invest in new locations and hire additional workers.

“We can’t minimize some of the impacts outlined here,” said Leggett, who explained his decision to veto the earlier bill by saying he was worried that the wage hike would hurt the county’s economy. “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.”

In all, raising the minimum wage to $15 would result in the loss of $396.5 million of income in the county by 2022.

And even Democrats — or smart ones — know what a $15 minimum wage would do to low-income workers.

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