Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray explained on Sunday his decision to veto the Large Retailer Accountability Act—the “living wage” bill that would have required certain large retailers like Wal-Mart to pay employees a minimum of $12.50 per hour.
Gray said the legislation’s costs outweighed the benefits, adding that the bill would have only benefited “a very small fraction” of D.C.-area workers and scared off potential retailers that could bring in new jobs, The Washington Post reports.
City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, an advocate of the measure, said, however, that perpetuating low-wage jobs will not help the city’s residents.
Data released by economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty showed that a full-time, minimum wage worker could earn approximately $15,000 per year—lower than the federal poverty line for a parent with a child, according to Financial Times.
Some experts have advocated raising the minimum wage to account for inflation, but industry groups have maintained that the focus should be on promoting economic growth.
“This seems like it’s a free lunch,” David French of the National Retail Federation said, Financial Times reports. “If you’re the politician who puts it on the agenda, it looks like you care about low income workers, when the real problem is that not enough jobs are being created.”