The Los Angeles City Council voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2020 on Tuesday. Los Angeles, the second-largest city in the country, is the largest city to approve such a hike; Seattle and San Francisco have approved similar proposals.
The current minimum wage in L.A. is $9 — $2.25 above the federal level, which hasn’t changed since 2009. The approximately 800,000 workers whom this change will affect will see the first increase in July 2016, when their hourly wage goes up to $10.50.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who runs the largest city in the country, mentioned raising the minimum wage to $15 in his State of the City address in February, and has continued bringing it up on his progressive policy tour around the country. Today, a conservative think tank ran an ad against de Blasio in the New York Post, arguing that raising the minimum wage to $15 would make the city’s “youth unemployment crisis” worse. Governor Andrew Cuomo has also discussed raising the minimum wage; earlier this month he formed a “Wage Board” to study pay in the fast-food industry. His initial ideas proposed raising the minimum wage in New York to $10.50.
Last month, around 60,000 workers around the country took part in “Fight for $15” demonstrations, which grew out of fast-food industry protests last year. Raising the minimum wage, however, leaves plenty of other unsolved problems for low-wage workers; as a report released today by the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows, a household would need to bring in $26.65 an hour to afford the average two-bedroom apartment in California. In New York, a household needs to make $25.67 an hour to afford rent. Given current state and federal minimum wage rates, workers making minimum wage could afford a typical one-bedroom apartment … nowhere.