In a historic move, the Los Angeles City Council voted almost unanimously to become the largest United States city with a $15 minimum wage. Although both the federal and individual city minimum wages have increased slowly and steadily over the past decade across the country, by 2020, Los Angeles will make the significant jump from $9 per hour to $15 per hour, making it the largest city in America to respond to the “Fight for 15” protests by fast food and other retail workers. Similar measures have already been passed in Washington, D.C.; Seattle; and San Francisco.
"Today, help is on the way for the one million Angelenos who live in poverty,” Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti said as the measure was passed.
Big companies in Silicon Valley, like Facebook, Walmart, and TJX, are also giving a wage boost to their lowest-paid workers. The measure would directly affect fast food workers, many of whom do not make much more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
This morning, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio called for a similar but “organic” $15 per hour minimum wage in New York City. In this instance, organic would mean that wages would increase naturally over time according to inflation and cost of living.
“Think about it this way: we all used to think of minimum wage as a wage you can live on,” de Blasio said in a press conference, according to the Observer. “Today in New York City and many other parts of the country, a wage level under $9-an-hour as a minimum, no one actually thinks a family could live on that with one breadwinner, even with two.”
But what would $15 per hour mean, realistically? In Seattle, since the $15 minimum wage was passed, unemployment has decreased from 6.3 percent to 5.2 percent, according to Forbes. However, restaurants in the city have been closing at faster rates than normal, indicating that in the long run, businesses won’t benefit from the wage hike.