Business & Economy

Studies of LA's minimum wage increase due this week

Supporters of raising the minimum wage in Los Angeles rally outside L.A. City Hall in January of 2015
Supporters of raising the minimum wage in Los Angeles rally outside L.A. City Hall in January of 2015
Brian Watt
Supporters of raising the minimum wage in Los Angeles rally outside L.A. City Hall in January of 2015
Hassan Del Campo, owner of Manifesto Cafe, says paying workers more will make his business more efficient.
Brian Watt

Listen to story

Download this story 1MB

Nearly six months after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed raising the minimum wage to $13.25 per hour, city council members are about to get their hands on new research detailing the impact of a wage hike in the city.

A study from UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education is due to the council this week. Back in January, city staff chose the Berkeley center to conduct this economic analysis, which drew some criticism since the same group had already done a study that largely supported Mayor Garcetti’s proposal. Studies from two other economic groups are also expected in the coming days.

Garcetti's proposal to raise the minimum wage beyond $9 per hour initially drew interest from the council. Four members even moved to take it a little further – they suggested raising the minimum wage to $15.25 by 2019. But a few weeks later, five council members called for a full economic study of its potential impact on businesses and non-profits, effectively slowing the proposal's roll.

"I am a strong supporter of our business community, especially our small business owners," council member Mitch O'Farrell said in October when he and Bob Blumenfield authored a motion calling for more study of the issue. "Many of them already exist at the margins, and it is our obligation to explore every consequence, because there's too much at stake in our economy."

In the meantime, supporters of a wage hike have staged several rallies in an attempt to broaden their coalition. At a rally outside L.A. City Hall in late January, Hassan Del Campo said he could afford to pay his employees a bit more. Del Campo owns Manifesto Cafe and employs six people.  He acknowledged that some of his workers start at the current minimum wage, but they go up from there. 

"Just by paying employees more, it’s going to make them more productive employees. It’s going to reduce the attrition rate," Del Campo told KPCC.  "Therefore we’re just going to be more efficient as a business."

Opponents of the proposal say small business will struggle to turn profits and might even move out of the city limits. 

The City Council’s Economic Development Committee, chaired by council member Curren Price, will hold four public hearings on the wage hike proposals and the forthcoming studies, starting next week on the following dates:

  1. Tuesday, March 24  1 p.m. - Los Angeles City Hall Council Chambers
  2. Thursday, March 26  6 p.m. - Watts Labor Community Action Committee -  10950 South Central Ave., Los Angeles 
  3. Tuesday, March 31  6 p.m. - Los Angeles City Hall - Van Nuys  6262 Van Nuys Blvd.
  4. Thursday, April 2  6 p.m. - Museum of Tolerance - 9786 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles