Kuehl introduced a motion at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting calling for such a county ordinance to be drafted. The board will consider the motion next week.
“On March 31, 2015, this board took note of the fact that in Los Angeles County, 2.7 million residents live in poverty …,” she said. “These residents, constituting 27 percent of the county’s overall population, represent an impoverished constituency the size of the city of Chicago, the third largest city in the nation, living in the midst of plenty.
“The fact that many county residents, despite working full time, earn too little in wages to cover even the bare necessities, such as safe housing, healthy food, adequate clothing and basic medical care, is intolerable in a county that values equity and fair reward,” she said.
Kuehl’s proposed county wage hike would — like the city’s — include a series of increases over five years, beginning July 1, 2016, and reaching $15 an hour by 2020. The wage would go to $10.50 in July 2016, $12 in July 2017, $13.25 in July 2018 and $14.25 in July 2019. Like the city increase, Kuehl’s proposal would delay the increase by one year for businesses with fewer than 26 employees.
Mayor Eric Garcetti signed the city’s minimum wage ordinance into law on Saturday.
Kuehl’s proposal evolved after she reviewed four economic studies commissioned to examine a minimum-wage increase in the city of Los Angeles and a city-commissioned peer review of those studies.
The supervisor’s preliminary work also involved an examination of a county-ordered review by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. of the four city studies and of the potential economic impacts of enacting a similar ordinance in the county’s unincorporated areas, he said.
She noted that the LAEDC’s study, which included the results of a survey of randomly selected business owners across the county, found that none of them planned to close in response to a minimum-wage increase. It also found that only 6 percent believed they would lay off employees and only 2 percent expected to reduce work hours. More than two-thirds of the respondents said they believe their employees would be happier and more productive if their wages rise.
Kuehl said the results directly contradict “much of the rhetorical opposition to raising the minimum wage.”
Supervisor Mike Antonovich noted that the LAEDC’s report is not expected to be finalized until Friday, and questioned whether the discussion should be delayed beyond next Tuesday to give the public more time to digest the findings.
Kuehl countered, however, that a draft of the report is already available on the county’s website.
Supervisor Hilda Solis offered a companion motion, calling on county administrators to report back in 45 days on ways county resources can be used to help smaller, “mom-and-pop” businesses if a wage increase is approved. She also called for an annual report on the impact of a wage hike on businesses, and said the county should also enact provisions to prevent wage theft — ensuring that businesses pay their workers the wages to which they are entitled.
Kuehl unveiled her plan immediately following a board vote to boost the wages of more than 140,000 home health-care workers. The board’s move will raise the salaries of the In-Home Supportive Service workers to $11.18 on Feb. 1, 2017.
— City News Service
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