The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Photo by John Schreiber.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Photo by John Schreiber.

Following in the footsteps of the city, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider commissioning a study of the impacts of raising the minimum wage.

Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis will ask their colleagues to approve spending up to $95,000 to have the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation review a series of studies of the issue performed in relation to the city of Los Angeles’ proposal to raise the minimum wage to $13.25 an hour by 2017 and to $15.25 an hour by 2019.

The supervisors noted in their motion that 2.7 million county residents live in poverty, and nearly one in five residents cannot afford basic necessities of life.

“It shocks the conscience to realize that we have an impoverished population as large as the city of Chicago in the midst of this land of plenty,” Kuehl said. “But raising the minimum wage is even more than a matter of social justice. We cannot build and support a healthy regional economy on the backs of our lowest-paid residents.”

Solis said conducting a study of a minimum wage hike “will help us determine the best way of bringing a higher standard of living to those earning a minimum wage, while ensuring that local and small business owners are not adversely affected.”

Los Angeles city officials are still weighing the possibility of raising the minimum wage. The City Council’s Economic Development Committee will hold another public meeting Tuesday night to get residents’ input on the idea.

Supporters of the wage hike proposal say it will lift hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers out of poverty and that businesses are capable of absorbing the increased costs, while critics of the plan say it would drive businesses out of the city and slow job growth.

A city-commissioned study done by UC Berkeley concluded that the benefits would outweigh the negative effects. While the wage hike would prompt businesses to pass costs onto customers, driving down consumer demand, it would be offset by $2.381 billion added to workers’ wages by 2019, which is expected to increase spending, the researchers found.

But a Beacon Economics report — funded by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce — found that the wage hike to $13.25 per hour would slow job growth by killing an anticipated 73,000 to 140,000 new jobs.

Meanwhile, a labor-funded report released by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, and conducted by the Economic Roundtable, concluded that the wage hike would result in $5.9 billion in added income for about 700,000 workers in Los Angeles and create more than 46,000 additional jobs.

City News Service

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