Laboring Over Pay

D.C.'s "living wage" proposal reinflates an economic debate

Walmart and Washington have become the newest combatants in the war over wages. On July 10, the D.C. council passed a "living wage" bill requiring nonunion retailers with more than 75,000 sq. ft. of space and parent-company revenue of $1 billion or more to pay workers a minimum of $12.50 an hour. Guess which company fits the bill. In response, Walmart has vowed to cancel three planned Washington-area stores and halt construction on three others if the bill becomes law, leaving 1,800 jobs in the lurch.

Since Baltimore pioneered the idea in 1994, living-wage laws have spread to more than 140...

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