Jerry Sweeney: Wage Law Will Further Stifle Philly Job Growth

The real estate leader thinks City Council should address Philly's arcane tax structure instead.

Jerry Sweeney at ThinkFest.

Jerry Sweeney at ThinkFest.

As president of Brandywine Realty Trust and leader of the Philadelphia Job Growth Coalition, Jerry Sweeney has long argued for an overhaul of the Philly tax code to boost jobs and now, he’s made a case against City Council’s wage equity law for the same reason.

While Sweeney believes the law, signed by Mayor Kenney just this month, has the right intention—“to increase awareness of wage equity”—he believes that City Council missed the larger problem at play: Philly just doesn’t have enough jobs, he told the Inquirer.

“Legislation like this, while well intended, just adds to the morass of complicating pubic policy that complicates our efforts to grow jobs,” he said.

According to Sweeney, City Council should focus its efforts on Philadelphia’s “arcane tax structure” that keeps companies from growing in the city or moving into the city. The tax code has kept job growth “anemic” and even in the stronger economic times, Philly has the lowest job growth rate among the country’s 25 major cities, he said.

Other problems Sweeney thinks the city should address include the fact that almost 40 percent of all residents commute outside the city to work, a statistic that forebodes continued job loss since workers move to where the jobs are. And if the city addresses the tax code to bolster job growth and company formation and retention, the effort would signal that Philly is open for business.

Sweeney also said the wage law, which will take effect this May, is “fraught with both practical implementation ambiguities and significant risk for future legal actions or non-hired employee claims.”

He is one of a few business leaders who has gone on the record in opposition to the wage law. Chamber president Rob Wonderling and Comcast have expressed similar apprehension, arguing that wage law underscores Philadelphia’s anti-business reputation and will hurt job growth.

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