The Los Angeles City Council voted today to raise the hourly minimum wage in the second-largest U.S. city from $9 to $15 by 2020 — a move that would cover as many as 800,000 people.
The Los Angeles Times has more on the vote:
"Tuesday's 14-1 vote was the latest demonstration of organized labor's clout at City Hall. Through close to a year of often-emotional debate, labor leaders never gave ground on their central demand that the minimum wage rise to at least $15. Their City Council allies ensured that a less far-reaching wage increase proposed by Mayor Eric Garcetti to allay concerns in the business community was marginalized in the final months of discussion."
Both Seattle and San Francisco have raised their minimum wage to $15 an hour, but LA is the biggest U.S city to raise it to that level. As NPR's Kirk Siegler reported in February, Los Angeles' proposal caused both excitement and anxiety. Some workers said the increase would help them, but some small-business owners said they would either have to lay off workers or move out of the city. Here's more from Kirk's story:
"Some cities that have raised minimum wages have seen pretty negligible impacts on employment. But another thing to consider that makes the debate and proposal in Los Angeles unique: No major city has tried to raise its minimum wage this fast or this much all at once.
"Economists who study minimum wage increases are pretty well split on what the impacts would be if a $15 minimum goes through in LA. But there's general agreement that the city's next move will be watched closely around the country."
Brian Watt of member station KPCC reports that the proposal would raise the current minimum wage to $10.50 per hour by July 2016. The rate would increase by $1 each year until it hits $15 – in 2020. Businesses with 25 workers or fewer and some nonprofits gets an extra year to comply.
The next step is for the city attorney's office to draft an ordinance on the minimum wage that will be returned later this year to the council for a vote. The mayor is then expected to sign the measure into law.