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Policy Library

Advance Good Jobs By Allowing Localities to Increase Their Wages

Costs to live, work, and raise a family across the country can vary drastically not only across states, but within states. To address this, dozens of localities from Arizona to Minnesota have set local minimum wages above the state minimum wage to reflect local costs of living and help ensure workers can afford housing, childcare and other necessities. In contrast, over half of U.S. states prohibit localities from setting local minimum wages that reflect the local cost of living. The Allow Good Jobs Act protects local minimum wage laws to help localities attract workers and ensure that all workers are able to have better jobs, support their families, and live healthier lives, and to prevent statewide special interests from stripping local workers of job protections.

The National Landscape

Passed in:


Introduced in:

Kentucky, Wisconsin
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In The News

“Joyce Barnes sometimes pauses, leaving the grocery store. A crowd shifts past, loaded up with goodies. Barnes pictures herself, walking out with big steaks and pork chops, some crabmeat. "But I'm not the one," she says. Inside her bags are bread, butter, coffee, a bit of meat and canned tuna — a weekly grocery budget of $25. The shopping has to fit between her two jobs. Barnes, 62, is a home care worker near Richmond, Va. In the mornings, she takes care of a man who lost both his legs, then hustles off to help someone who's lost use of one side of his body in a stroke. The jobs pay $9.87 and $8.50 an hour...Home and health aides are among the lowest-paid jobs in America.”
“Tucson is one step closer to becoming the second city in Arizona — behind Flagstaff — to pass a $15 minimum hourly wage initiative...In 2016, 58% of Arizona voters passed a gradual statewide minimum wage increase, which elevated the hourly wage floor from $8.05 in 2015 to $12.15 this year, making it one of the highest hourly wage floors of any state. But, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage Calculator, that’s still not quite enough for a single person with no children living in Tucson to afford clothing, housing, transportation and other necessities.”
“Minneapolis became one of the first cities in the nation to adopt a $15 minimum wage Friday in a move meant to set an example for the rest of the state and boost the local economy. “This is a huge victory for workers in Minneapolis,” Council Member Lisa Bender said before the historic vote, which prompted labor activists who packed the council chambers to cheer and raise bright red signs that read, “15 WON.”...Other workers were overcome with emotion as they spoke about what the moment meant for them. Guillermo Lindsay, who’s worked at McDonald’s for 14 years, said a $15 minimum wage will give him a $5 hourly raise — enough to buy his 7-year-old son the things he wants.”


  • Workers and their families
  • Employment advocates
  • Fair pay advocates
  • Businesses that support fair pay


  • High-powered special interest groups that oppose fair pay
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The State Line


Who does this policy help?
This policy helps all workers and their families by allowing communities to adopt wages that better match local housing and other living costs and by preventing statewide special interests from stripping local workers of job protections. It also helps businesses benefit from a more productive and hard working workforce, lower staff turnover, better service, and better health outcomes.
Is this high cost for the state?
No. In fact, allowing localities to set minimum wages higher than the state minimum wage would more than pay for itself by lowering state and local costs for public programs that support underpaid workers, generating more state income taxes, and increasing overall earnings, leading to a stronger overall economy.

Model Policy

This act shall be known as the STATE Allow Good Jobs Act.

This act protects local minimum wage laws to help more workers afford to live, work and raise a family across STATE.


  • (i) The cost of living can vary significantly from one community to another in STATE;
  • (ii) Allowing local minimum wage laws higher than the minimum wage required by state law offers local governments a way to address the particular minimum wage needs of workers and businesses in their jurisdiction;
  • (iii) Studies of local minimum wage laws have shown that such laws can increase earnings for workers without negatively affecting employment;
  • (iv) Therefore, it is the intent of the legislature to address the needs of workers across the state by allowing local governments to adopt local minimum wage laws higher than the state minimum when local governments determine that such laws are in the best interest of their jurisdiction.
(B) Accordingly,
  • (i) A local government may enact through its governing body or, when available, through its initiative or referendum powers, a law establishing a minimum wage higher than the state minimum wage for individuals performing work within the local government’s jurisdiction.
  • (ii) If both a [county or other encompassing local government unit] and a [city, town] within that [county or other encompassing local government unit] have adopted a law described in the above section, the provisions of the law establishing the highest minimum wage shall prevail.