The minimum hourly wage for large companies in Montgomery County will increase to $17.15 on July 1, putting it among the highest in the country.

A large company is defined by the county as any with 51 or more employees. Midsize employers will have to increase their minimum hourly wage to $15.50, while small employers will remain tied to Maryland’s $15 minimum hourly wage.

The minimum wage in Montgomery County is tied to the consumer price index. It’s been that way since 2017, and county code requires officials to determine the minimum wage by March 1 each year.

Tipped employees in Montgomery County have to earn the minimum wage, and employers have to provide at least $4 of that.

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When it goes into effect, Montgomery County will have a higher minimum wage than every state, including Maryland. The federal minimum wage, which has not been raised since 2009, remains $7.25.

County Executive Marc Elrich said he views the ability to get a job that can support someone as “a fundamental right,” so he’s glad to see the minimum wage in Montgomery County move upward.

“Nobody should be working full time and not be able to put a roof over their head,” Elrich said.

Still, he said, the wage increase may not be enough. Someone working a $20-an-hour job, for example, would make around $41,000 annually if they worked full time. That’s not enough each year to support a person, or even to find housing, Elrich said.

Elrich said he is working with people to introduce a bill in Montgomery County that would jump the minimum wage up even faster. He wasn’t ready to say what hourly wage he’d be looking for, though.

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Many states have raised wages beyond the federal minimum in recent years, with some cities and towns going even further — topping out around $20 in some localities on the West Coast.

The minimum wage in Maryland increased this year for untipped workers to $15 an hour from $13.25 (or from $12.80 at smaller companies). Workers younger than 18 can be paid 85% of the minimum wage.

In Howard County, the minimum hourly wage for county government employees becomes $16 on July 1. That same change goes into effect for large employers on Jan. 1, 2025, and smaller employers on July 1, 2026. Increases in Howard County will be tied to the consumer price index beginning in January 2027.

The minimum wage in Washington, D.C., will increase to $17.50 on July 1, too.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of County Executive Marc Elrich’s surname.