LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday, July 21 to gradually increase minimum wage for unincorporated areas of Los Angeles to $15 per hour by 2020.
The 3-2 vote does not directly increase minimum wage. Instead, the vote asks county lawyers to create a planned law that would increase minimum wage in the coming years. The Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors would then consider this law at a point later this year.
The proposed law would only impact a small portion of the nearly 10 million people in Los Angeles County, one of the most populated counties in the nation. Roughly 10,000 employees would be effected by the wage increase.
Several cities around the nation have recently voted to raise minimum wage significantly. Many cities, including Los Angeles, have planned increases that will raise minimum wage to $15 by 2020. Others immediately raised their minimum wage to $15. Most areas that are raising their minimum wage are directly tying it to inflation after the proposed raises take place.
Supporters of minimum wage increases argue that minimum wage should be equivalent to living wage. In many places around the nation, those who work full-time and earn minimum wage still live under the poverty level. The federal minimum wage of $7.25 is much lower than California’s, which is $9.00. Although California’s minimum wage is higher than the federal and most states’ minimum wages, its cost of living is also significantly higher.
Detractors of significant wage increases worry that high minimum wages are unstable. They argue that businesses, especially small businesses, will not have the resources to higher new employees and that many existing jobs will likely be cut. Some also worry that dramatically raising minimum wage would severely cut into the bottom line and lead to a significant spike in prices overall, in both goods and services.
Cities around the nation who have already seen significant minimum wage increases have seen mixed results and experts believe that more time is needed to gauge their real impact on businesses, individuals and the local economy.