On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to draft legislation that would set the city’s minimum wage at $15 per hour by 2020 for businesses with more than 25 employees and by 2021 for smaller ones.
The council voted in favor of the move 14 to 1. The legislation will set the wage to $10.50 an hour for large businesses next year before gradually rising to $15, and it will also automatically increase the city’s minimum wage after 2020 as the cost of living increases. Once the bill is drafted, the council will have to vote on it again to give it final passage. Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) said he will sign it into law.
The increase is expected to increase pay for as many as 800,000 city residents.
Los Angeles is the largest city to adopt a $15 wage, but Seattle and San Francisco have also increased their minimum wages to that level. It also isn’t the highest wage level adopted in the country so far. Earlier this month, the California city of Emeryville voted to increase its minimum wage to nearly $16 an hour by 2019.
The $15 an hour minimum wage gained prominence as fast food workers staged repeated strikes over the last three years, calling to be paid at least that much as well as to have the right to form unions. Their call has since been taken up by retail employees, home care aids, and adjunct professors.
Besides the three cities that have since approved that wage level, a handful of others have also considered it, as have some states. And Democrats in Congress have increased their minimum wage target from $10.10 an hour to $12 an hour. Minimum wage increases at lower levels have also been widespread, as the majority of states have increased theirs above the federal $7.25 floor, which hasn’t been raised in about six years.
Critics of increases warn that higher minimum wage requirements will force companies to lay workers off to deal with higher costs. But decades of economic research has found virtually no impact on job growth with potential benefits through increased worker productivity and sales when people have more money to spend. And even concerns about the $15 minimum wage aren’t panning out so far, as claims that businesses were forced to shut down were overblown.