Montgomery County

Montgomery County Officials Vote to Raise Minimum Wage to $15

The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next seven years.

Councilmembers voted Tuesday on an amended bill that would force large employers to adopt the $15 hourly wage by the middle of 2021.

The Washington Post reports that the county is the first in the state to require a $15 minimum.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett said he will sign the bill.

The county raised the minimum wage in 2013 by phasing it in over several years. It has incrementally risen to $11.50 an hour, where it is currently set.

News4 spoke to one woman who expects to make an extra $6,000 annually when the $15 wage is phased in.

"It’s very hard to be able to pay my rent," Mirtha Munoz, a single mother who cleans offices at night, said. "That’s going to help me tremendously."

All nine council members agreed to vote for the bill after a compromise that the increased wage would be phased in over several years.

Employers with 50 employees or more will have to start paying $15 an hour or more by July 1, 2021.

Employers with between 11 and 50 employees have until July 2023 to raise their wages.

Very small companies with fewer than 11 employees must pay the higher wage by July 2024.

The new wage is higher than neighboring Prince George’s County’s $11.50 an hour and the statewide minimum wage which is set to go up to $10.10 hourly in July. Montgomery County will be in line with D.C. as they implement a $15 per hour minimum wage in 2020.

However, some are concerned that high wages could make an unfriendly business climate.

The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce says raising the minimum wage puts businesses in their county at a competitive disadvantage.

"A state mandate was something that would at least would apply to the other counties in Maryland," said a Chamber of Commerce spokesperson. "But here we are, we’re going it alone."

But advocates who fought for the wage increase in Montgomery County also have their eyes on statewide legislation. "Fight for 15" activists told News4 their next stop is Annapolis.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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