L.A. County to vote on pay hike

As in the city of L.A., mea­sure would push wages to $15 by 2020.

Los Angeles Times - - LOS ANGELES - By Abby Sewell abby.sewell@latimes.com

A pro­posed min­i­mum wage in­crease in Los An­ge­les County’s un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas would have “lit­tle im­pact, if any, on poverty,” ac­cord­ing to a newre­port.

The Board of Su­per­vi­sors com­mis­sioned the study by the L.A. Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Corp. to look at the po­ten­tial eco­nomic ef­fect of grad­u­ally rais­ing min­i­mum pay to $15 an hour.

The city of Los An­ge­les this month ap­proved a plan that will in­crease the min­i­mum wage within city lim­its from $9 to $15 by 2020. County su­per­vi­sors will vote on a sim­i­lar plan Tues­day.

A draft ver­sion of the re­port was re­leased this month, in­clud­ing re­sults of a sur­vey of 1,000 busi­nesses around the county. The fi­nal re­port, re­leased Fri­day night, added sum­mary ob­ser­va­tions and in­cluded a de­tailed break­down of the sur­vey re­sults.

The econ­o­mists con­cluded that as a re­sult of the wage in­crease, “many prices will in­crease, in­clud­ing those that lower-in­come house­holds com­monly face; wages will rise for those in min­i­mum wage jobs that re­main em­ployed; em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for those at the bot­tom of the skills lad­der will be di­min­ished” and “em­ploy­ment growth will slow.”

Su­per­vi­sor Sheila Kuehl, who pro­posed the wage in­crease, said she thought the busi­ness sur­vey find­ings bol­stered her ar­gu­ments for rais­ing the wage and called the con­clu­sions drawn by the study “dis­hon­est.”

“I was ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed in the bias of their ex­ec­u­tive sum­mary,” she said. “The ex­ec­u­tive sum­mary is not a sum­mary of the re­port — it’s an opin­ion piece.”

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, none of the busi­nesses sur­veyed thought it likely that they would close down or re­lo­cate as a re­sult of the wage in­crease. The sur­vey in­cluded a cross-sec­tion of small and large busi­nesses from dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries.

A ma­jor­ity of busi­nesses sur­veyed— and96% of those with min­i­mum wage em­ploy­ees — said they would prob­a­bly raise their prices to make up for the in­creased la­bor costs. Only 6% of the busi­nesses over­all said it was likely they would re­duce the num­ber of min­i­mum wage work­ers they em­ploy as a re­sult of the in­creased wage, but 19% of busi­nesses with min­i­mum wage work­ers said it was likely they would. Only 2% of busi­nesses over­all— but 7% of those with min­i­mum wage work­ers— said they would prob­a­bly cut the hours of their ex­ist­ing low-wage em­ploy­ees.

A large por­tion of busi­nesses were un­de­cided on both ques­tions.

Busi­nesses in the city of L.A. em­ploy about 40% of work­ers across the county. Another 10% are in un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas. The rest are in the other 87 in­de­pen­dent cities within the county.

Un­der the plan ap­proved by the city and be­ing con­sid­ered by the county, busi­nesses with fewer than 26 em­ploy­ees will get an ad­di­tional year to im­ple­ment the wage in­crease in both the city and county. Those small busi­nesses com­prise a sub­stan­tial ma­jor­ity of busi­nesses through­out the county. Ac­cord­ing to the LAEDC re­port, 87% of busi­nesses through­out the county and 86% of those in un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas have fewer than 20 em­ploy­ees.

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