Dallas Keeps up the Good Work by Paying Living Wages

Written by Dr. Amy K. Glasmeier on 09/06/2018

On Labor Day, Richard Florida of the University of Toronto Citylab suggested cities should be the place where fair pay is possible. Some metropolitan areas are already paying their workers living wages. A case in point is the city of Dallas Texas. The city passed a resolution placing a floor under wages in 2015. The wage floor is included on all general services contracts, insurance, and services related to the purchase of high technology items, or other types of manual, physical, or intellectual labor. As part of the policy, vendors are required to provide actual hours worked each calendar year.

For the third year in a row, the city has raised the wage floor using data from the Living Wage Calculator. In 2017, a total of almost 3500 employees were covered by the agreement. The benefits were so apparent that in 2017-2018, the City Manager recommended and planned budgets to raise the City of Dallas minimum wage to match the wage floor rate. As of 2017, the City Council approved the new budget paying city employees $10.94 an hour. As a result, 507 City employees received a pay increase.

The City plans once again to raise employee wages for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. The 2018-2019 contract wage rate will increase from $10.94 to $11.15 based on the living wage calculator.

Continuing the policy of paying living wages in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 is the direct result of the productivity impact experienced by the city back in 2015. The increase in the contract starting wage (the stated living wage) had a significant effect on residents of the metropolitan areas: 92% of contract employees lived in the city; 95% of the sanitation workers reported they lived in the city. Benefits to the metropolitan area were clearly evident in improved attendance of employees and improved morale. Lower turnover enabled the city to hire 18 temporary workers into full-time jobs. Leaders in Dallas acknowledged that wages had been stagnant for a long time. By increasing wage rates, workers were more timely and more productive.