The ‘New Norm’? Los Angeles Ups Minimum Wage to $15

The nation’s second-largest city joins a rising tide of minimum-wage increases. What does the trend mean for the rest of us?

Los Angeles employers will pay workers at least $15 per hour by 2020, the Los Angeles Times reports.

City Council members adopted the minimum wage increase Tuesday by a vote of 14-1.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who supported the measure, said in a statement issued after the vote:

I started this campaign to raise the minimum wage to create broader economic prosperity in our city and because the minimum wage should not be a poverty wage in Los Angeles.

I want to thank the City Council … for joining me in building a stronger city.

Other California cities that have adopted higher minimum wages include San Diego, San Francisco and Oakland, according to the Los Angeles Times. Seattle, Chicago, and the New Mexico cities of Albuquerque and Santa Fe have done the same.

New York; Washington, D.C.; Kansas City, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; and Portland, Maine, have proposed higher minimum wages.

Companies that have recently agreed to improve wages include McDonald’s, Target and Wal-Mart.

Michael Reich, an economics professor and director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California at Berkeley, was commissioned by city leaders to study the effects of a minimum wage hike.

He tells the Los Angeles Times:

The effects here will be the biggest by far…

The proposal will bring wages up in a way we haven’t seen since the 1960s. There’s a sense spreading that this is the new norm, especially in areas that have high costs of housing.

An Institute for Research on Labor and Employment study published in September found that increasing Los Angeles’ minimum wage to $13.25 per hour by 2017 would mean a pay raise for 567,000 workers, resulting in a total increase in aggregate earnings of $1.8 billion (in 2014 dollars) by 2017.

If your city or employer has yet to embrace a more livable wage, check out “10 Ways To Save Money When You’re Working Minimum Wage.”

Stacy Johnson

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