Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Los Angeles could stimulate the city’s economy enough to create 64,700 jobs, according to a study from the Economic Roundtable released by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.
The study estimates that 46 percent of the city’s workers, or more than 810,000, make less than that wage currently, and the pay raise would increase wages by $7.6 billion a year. Because low-wage workers are more likely to spend any pay increases, the raise would pump that money almost immediately into the economy.
The report comes as the group that released the study is spearheading a push to raise the minimum wage for the city’s hotel workers even higher, to $15.37 an hour. Nancy L. Cohen writes in The New Republic that two City Council members are set to introduce an ordinance later this month with the raise as well as a guarantee of five paid sick days a year for those workers. If passed, it would “immediately put roughly $73 million into the pockets of working people,” she writes. It has a decent chance of becoming law as the City Council has a Democratic super majority and the hospitality industry is doing well. Supporters would eventually like to see the wage apply to all city workers.
California’s statewide wage is currently $8 an hour, but Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a hike in September that will bring it up to $10 by 2016. That’s not enough for some in the state, however. A wealthy Republican has begun a campaign to raise the wage to $12 an hour by that year and is pushing to get the measure in front of voters on the November ballot.
The $15 an hour figure has gained traction in recent months. It started with striking fast food workers, who have staged a growing wave of protests to demand that wage level and the right to form a union. Then voters in a small town in Washington state approved a $15 minimum wage in November, although it is currently being fought over in court. In nearby Seattle, the mayor is now pushing for the same wage for his city’s workers. Chicago is also taking steps toward a $15 wage, as voters in a small number of precincts will soon weigh in on whether they approve of such a hike.
The issue carries some urgency, as jobs that pay below that level are growing and replacing better paying jobs since the end of the recession. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, the level backed by a handful of governors and President Obama, could lift nearly 5 million people out of poverty and give the economy a $22 billion boost.