BALTIMORE—Cities and counties from Portland, Maine, to Los Angeles have successfully passed local minimum-wage increases, but recent resistance in seemingly friendly territory suggests a momentum shift.
The newly elected Baltimore mayor last month vetoed an increase of the local wage floor to $15 an hour by 2022, despite favoring the policy as a candidate. Earlier this year, the top elected official in Montgomery County, Md., outside Washington blocked a similar measure despite the county previously being at the forefront of local minimum-wage increases.
“I want people to earn better wages,” Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, a Democrat, said in an interview. “But I also want my city to survive.”
Proponents view increases as a way to ensure low-wage workers earn incomes above the poverty line, and to narrow the disparity between rich and poor Americans. Opponents say raising the minimum wage discourages hiring and encourages employers to invest in automation or move jobs to lower-wage states or countries.