Minimum Wage Momentum

Los Angeles city council raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour

Los Angeles City Council Raises Its Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour

It’s a problem we talk about often. Working and middle class Americans are facing lower wages and an increasing cost of living. But recently, local governments have stepped up to bat for their workers. Yesterday, the Los Angeles city council voted 14-1 in favor of raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, up from $9 an hour. The move makes LA the most recent—and largest—city to increase its minimum wage, following similar actions by cities like Seattle, Chicago, and San Francisco.

Conservatives who oppose an increased minimum wage like to argue that a higher minimum wage kills jobs and hurts local economies. But an issue brief from the CAP Action found the opposite to be true. In fact, of the recent, measurable local minimum-wage increases, 64 percent actually saw their unemployment rates fall after raising the minimum wage, according to CAP’s analysis.

Conservatives’ job loss fear mongering hasn’t scared off businesses—many major companies like Facebook, Walmart and others have also taken action to increase their wages. While 2014 did see several states increase the minimum wage, state and federal action on raising the minimum wage has been slow, encouraging more cities and companies to take matters into their own hands. Kansas City could become the next city to give their workers a raise, the council is expected to make a decision tomorrow.

While local efforts to raise the wage are important and effective, we still need action to be taken on the federal level to ensure that all Americans earn a fair wage. In April, Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Bobby Scott introduced the Raise the Wage Act, which would increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $12, phase out the sub-minimum tipped wage, and tie future wage increases to median wages. A federal minimum wage of $12 an hour would give 35 million workers a raise. More than a third of all African American workers and more than a third of all Hispanic workers in America would receive a raise, and more than half of all those who would benefit from an increase are women.

Raising the minimum wage is not only good for workers, but it’s also good for the overall economy. When low-wage workers have more money in their pockets they are more likely than their higher earning peers to spend it in their local economies, stimulating economic growth.

BOTTOM LINE: Americans who work hard and play by the rules shouldn’t have to live in poverty. The growing momentum around the movement to raise the wage and the action by cities like Los Angeles highlights the fact that American workers are long overdue for a raise.

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