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(September 23, 2021 8:42 AM) Jackson Mayor Derek Dobies today introduced a new Living Wage Ordinance that would set a $15.68 wage standard for city employees, government contractors, and companies receiving public subsidies.  Dobies said the effort seeks to use city funds to confront the poverty many face in Jackson.

In a press release, Dobies tied the introduction of the ordinance to the defeat of an anti-panhandling ordinance defeated by the council last week.  “Criminalizing poverty is not a solution. As a city, we will continue to confront the poverty we face with bold, proven policy solutions,” said Dobies. “When we expend public dollars, assign contracts, or award grants we should do so with wages that do not normalize or exacerbate the poverty that we see here.”

In his memo to the City Council, Dobies indicated that the decline of the minimum wage, relative to the cost of living, has contributed to the growth of income inequality and poverty over the past three decades. Nearly 1 in 3 now live under the federal poverty level in the City of Jackson, and even more are asset limited, and income constrained per the most recent United Way Financial Hardship Study. 

The ordinance would set an initial $15.68/hr. living wage rate for any contractor, vendor, or grantee of city funds.  A press release states the rate is derived from a MIT model for the living wage of two working adults with one child in the Jackson Metropolitan Statistical Area. The ordinance also provides a lower rate of $13.32/hr. for employers that provide healthcare to its employees. Under the proposal, both rates would adjust annually by percentages equivalent to any increases in the federal poverty rate.

The proposed ordinance is available for review here. Dobies said he plans to introduce the policy at the September 28th City Council meeting. 

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