Los Angeles Announces $15 Minimum Wage By 2020

Yesterday, the Los Angeles City Council made plans to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15/hr by 2020. This comes after a series of #FightFor15 protests, including a 15-day hunger strike in front of LA’s City Hall. As the LA Times reports:

The ordinance would boost the $9 an hour base wage to $15 by 2020 for as many as 800,000 workers, city officials say, and make L.A. the largest U.S. city to adopt a major minimum-wage increase. Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle already have adopted similar laws.

“Make no mistake,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian, who was instrumental in shaping the wage increase plan’s final form. “Today the city of Los Angeles, the second-biggest city in the nation, is leading the nation.”

The LA Times noted that this decision to increase the minimum wage was “tentative,” although the final vote was 14–1 in favor of the minimum wage increase.

There is, of course, the usual pushback. From the LA Times:

Labor leaders say they remain dissatisfied with the gradual timeline elected leaders set for raising the base wage, but the harshest criticism of the law came from the ranks of L.A.’s small-business owners. Many claimed that the mandate will force them to lay off employees or leave the city altogether.

And from Curbed, in an article outlining how $15/hr won’t be enough to make rent anywhere in the city:

Assuming a person earning $15 an hour is also working 40 a week, which is rare for a minimum wage employee, and that they’re not taking any days off (the City Council considered bundling paid days off with the wage hike, but scrapped the idea), they’d be earning $31,200 a year. An Economic Policy Institute study released in March found that a single, childless person living in Los Angeles has to make $34,324 a year just to live in decent conditions (and that was using data from 2013).

I have no idea what they mean by “decent conditions,” but here’s how I lived when I was in Los Angeles:

I was in a roommate situation where every room was used as a bedroom. The living room was a bedroom. I had the “office space,” and slept on the floor. I paid $780/month for this space (plus utilities) in 2013. So, yeah, Curbed has a point.

I’m still in favor of $15/hr, even if small businesses have to adjust and even if the rent is too damn high. What we have now isn’t working. Raising the minimum wage won’t solve all of the problems about what isn’t working, but it’s a start, and we have to start somewhere.

Photo credit: Antti T. Nissinen

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