Nearly half of Washington, D.C. employers said they have either laid off employees or reduced the hours of employees to adapt to the District of Columbia’s minimum wage hikes since 2014, according to a report from the Employment Policies Institute.
The minimum wage in the District of Columbia has increased from a $8.25 hourly rate in 2014 to the current rate of $11.50 per hour. Mayor Muriel Bowser advocated a $15 minimum wage in her State of the District address earlier this year.
“In recent months, the City Council in D.C. has considered enacting a number of new labor mandates, including a higher minimum wage, a bill that would fine employers for schedule changes, and a family leave policy funded by a tax on employers,” the report says.
The institute surveyed 100 employers in Washington, D.C. to understand how they would react to a further minimum wage hike.
“Employers affected by the proposed increase to a $15 minimum wage were asked if they had either reduced the number of employees on their staff, or reduced the hours of current employees, to adapt to recently enacted minimum wage increases,” the report says. “Nearly half of employers surveyed had already taken one of these steps—suggesting that 2014-16 minimum wage increases haven’t been absorbed through higher prices alone.”
According to the report, just over half of the businesses surveyed said they planned to raise prices in order to offset the cost of a minimum wage hike. Thirty-five percent said they would likely reduce staffing levels and 37 percent said they would reduce employees’ hours or reduce the number of hours they were open for business. Thirty-one percent of businesses said they were very likely to hire more skilled workers in the future to offset the higher wage.