Los Angeles has become the latest – and largest – city to jump on the minimum wage train. The city council voted 14-1 on Tuesday in favor of having the minimum wage raised from $9 to $15 by 2020, according to a report from NBC Los Angeles. This represents the latest in a string of victories for living wage advocates, including unions and anti-poverty groups who have made the $15 minimum wage a major objective as national minimum wage stagnates and the gap between rich and poor increases. The last federal minimum wage increase to $7.25, was in 2009.
Los Angeles is not the first city to attempt a minimum wage increase. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo attempted to raise New York City’s minimum wage from $8.50 to $11.50 earlier this month but his efforts were shot down by the New York Legislature. Los Angeles still has to officially draft and approve a new minimum wage law, but the 14-1 vote and support of Mayor Eric Garcetti makes its approval a near-certainty. Garcetti was very pleased with the results of the vote.
“Today, help is on the way for the 1 million Angelenos who live in poverty.”
In spite of Governor Cuomo’s failed attempt, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has stated that he would like to follow suit.
As CBC News notes, following Tuesday’s vote, the measure will be sent to the city attorney to prepare a wage ordinance. From there, the ordinance will go to a council committee, then to the full council for a final vote, and then to Mayor Garcetti. Given how strongly the council and Mayor have already come out in favor of the increase, it is extremely unlikely that the ordinance will fail any of these steps.
Over the last six years, average wage has risen only a little over 2 percent each year, while poverty and unemployment either remain static or climb, along with inflation and cost-of-living – and Los Angeles has some of the highest housing costs in the United States. Councilman Paul Krekorian recalled how his mother had raised a family while waiting tables for minimum wage, and reflected on how much harder that would be today.
“It would be a whole lot harder to raise a family now doing what she did… because minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living, with the cost of housing, with the cost of transportation or any of the other costs that we all have to bear.”
The single dissenting vote came from Councilman Mitchell Englander, who feels that increasing minimum wage will drive businesses out of Los Angeles.
“The very last thing that we should be doing as a city is creating a competitive disadvantage for our businesses with those in neighboring cities and sending the clear message that Los Angeles is closed for business”
[Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]