Housing Complex

Gray Said the Living Wage Bill Would Kill More Than 4,000 Jobs. What Are They?

Skyland Town Center, where the city anticipated job losses if the living wage bill became law.

Skyland Town Center, where the city anticipated job losses if the living wage bill became law.

In Mayor Vince Gray's statement accompanying his veto this morning of the living wage bill, Gray claimed the bill would have killed "more than 4,000 District jobs in just the first few years alone" (emphasis his). Gray attributed this number to Victor Hoskins, his deputy mayor for planning and economic development. But with Walmart threatening to scrap plans for only two stores, with perhaps a few hundred employees each, how did Hoskins arrive at that figure?

Hoskins' spokeswoman, Chanda Washington, passes along the calculation that produced the number:

Shops at Dakota Crossing – 300
Walter Reed – 400
St. Elizabeths – 300
3 planned Walmarts – 1,125
Retail stores around the planned Walmarts – 675
3 Walmarts under construction – 900
Potential anchor tenants that have expressed heavy interest – 650
Total – 4,350

Washington says these numbers represent both construction and permanent jobs that would be lost because retailers who would otherwise have opened stores in the District would choose not to in the presence of a living wage law. (The bill would require retailers in excess of 75,000 square feet and with parent companies grossing at least $1 billion a year to pay a living wage of $12.50 an hour, minus benefits.)

Walmart, then, represents less than a quarter of the total figure. But the Walmart number itself is questionable. The company was initially threatening to close three of it six planned D.C. stores, but one of those three stores already appears to be in trouble: The owners of the property recently terminated their agreement with the developer, leaving the whole project—including the Walmart store—in doubt. Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo says the company remains "committed to building a store at the New York Avenue site and will continue to work towards bringing the project to fruition," but Walmart is at the mercy of the property owners and whatever future developer they select.

Some of the other figures are more difficult to assess. At Walter Reed, for instance, no developer has been chosen, and at St. Elizabeths, the city hasn't even issued the solicitation for a developer, so it's a pure guessing game to try to predict how many jobs might be lost there as a result of the bill. The "retail stores around the planned Walmarts" category is a bit more concrete: The developer of the Skyland Town Center project said the whole development couldn't continue if Walmart backed out, as it was threatening to do.

Rendering from the Skyland Town Center website

  • Native Daugter

    Create 4350 jobs that can not support the residents occupying them? Where can you live in the DMV for the current minimum wage? Oh yeah, this mayor doesn't work for the poor people/mentally challenged/elderly, he just works for his NEW constituents. What he is doing is creating an imperalistic atmosphere that does not encourage good citizenship. If I am richer than you why should I respect you, poo hoo on out to the suburbs where I used to live, you don't deserve all these AMENITIES. Who wants to clean up after rich folks, who won't look at them in the street? Who wants to serve someone like that? Oh yeah, european immigrants who just need to get the right nanny position.... This city is becoming a cesspool of entitled, no class, DRUNKS!!!!

  • Hillman

    They always fudge these numbers a bit.

    But what does it matter if it's 4500 jobs or 2000?

    A job is a job.

    And just as importantly is the massive influx of new taxes this would bring.

    Sales tax and the tax on the buildings alone would be in the tens of millions a year.

    And a lot of that goes to DC's never-ending welfare programs, so it absolutely goes directly to the poor.

  • John

    Why do we need 6 Walmarts for a city of 630,000 people?


    This is probably the first time I have agreed with VG there are many valid reasons this flawed election year ploy should be vetoed.
    If Walmart or any company wants to build multiple stores that is their decision the fact is they generate real property and sales tax.

  • aerzondzinska

    Walmart has said all along that they'd create 300 jobs per store. Yet when DMPED talks about losing jobs at three stores, they credit each store with a potential 375 jobs (for a total of 1,125 jobs). And DMPED mentions that most of these jobs will be part-time. According to my arithmetic, each part-time job counts as a fraction of a job. Their arithmetic also presumes that no other retailer will open in Walmart's stead, and thus all other ancillary tenants can be wiped off their balance sheet. This applies to discounting property and sales taxes as well. And finally, the biggest elephant in the room is that Walmart is a job-killer everywhere, all over America; Walmart's arrival ALWAYS kills jobs, and the net result is usually job loss. Hillman, you should get out more.

  • Say It Aint So

    Standing firm on treating DC Residents fairly doesn't lead to job loss, it's when people aren't prepared to take on the responsibilities of the job. There are plenty of jobs in the area, especially ones that pay the same scale of minimum wage that Wal-Mart will have to pay. People are just prideful and want their way all the time so they complain about what someone isn't doing for them instead of taking the necessary steps to improve their own situation.

    I just hope that since Gray has allowed for Wal-Mart and other big box retailers to come into the city and hire people for pennies and dimes, that they take pride in what they signed up for and maintain those establishments and communities to the highest degree.

    Skyland and South East overall have waited a long time for development. I just hope the residents step up to the plate and do their best to keep their revamped area in tact.

  • Hillman

    Walmart is a job and business killer in small towns.

    But in DC? Not so much.

    Have you seen the businesses around these Walmarts currently? Almost all are service oriented - hair salons, liquor stores, sham medical facilities, gas stations.

    Walmart isnt their competition.

    The dynamics of Walmart going into a depressed urban area are totally different.

    The biggest plus is the massive groceries and pharmacies most of these Walmarts will have. In most of these locations the grocery options for residents are currently terrible.

  • Hillman

    And dont misunderstand. Im not a huge Walmart fan. They treat their employees pretty bad and the quality of their stuff is usually horrible.

    I just think it's not quite as simple as saying they are the worst thing since 9/11.