Minimum Wage

L.A. County Joins City in $15 Minimum Wage Fantasyland

An idea so great everybody is worried what will happen if other cities don't follow suit.


Can they survive on $0 per hour?
Credit: The All-Nite Images / photo on flickr

Businesses in the City of Los Angeles unable to deal with the demand that they pay employees a minimum of $15 per hour by 2020 will be losing one possible solution. Commissioners for Los Angeles County voted Tuesday to join the city in the massive minimum wage increase for employees working in incorporated areas outside L.A. city limits. This means employers will not be able to relocate as easily to reduce costs.

More and more people seem to be questioning the idea that an entire metropolis full of hundreds of thousands of low-skilled employees can simply vote its way into the middle class. Other nearby municipalities are not necessarily jumping on board and are considering whether a failure to participate in this venture gives them a competitive advantage in the marketplace. From the Los Angeles Times:

Some economists, business owners and public officials warn that a patchwork of local pay policies could set off economically disruptive competition for workers and job-producing employers.

Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford said his city was still recovering from the recession and couldn't afford a wage hike. He said some businesses in nearby unincorporated communities had voiced concern about the county's wage boost and inquired about having their areas annexed by the city to avoid increased labor costs.

"I think it will put those businesses at a distinct disadvantage and people will now shop" in Palmdale, he said.

The mayor of Glendale said he was going to wait and see what actually happened once L.A.'s minimum wage is set in place before deciding whether to follow suit. But, the Times notes, businesses in nearby communities may still be impacted by the forced wage increase because it will affect their costs, too:

At Casa Córdoba, a restaurant on the edge of Glendale near the unincorporated area of Montrose, where Spanish music filled a dining room floored with colorfully patterned tiles, head chef Cole Brisco, 30, said he expected the county vote to trigger a ripple effect of higher costs for the restaurant, whether or not Glendale follows suit.

Suppliers of produce, seafood, meat and alcohol based in Los Angeles city and county will probably pass on the expense of the wage increase to restaurant owners, he said. "I don't expect a company to take a loss out of the goodness of their heart," Brisco said.

And those expenses, of course, will be passed along to customers. One labor study calculates that increasing the minimum wage to $15 could increase the cost of food by 43 percent. Imagine the impact on the low-skilled lower-class people who get laid off or will be unable to find work at all as businesses try to adjust for this massive increase in costs. A labor expert in the piece notes that while some businesses, like manufacturers, can relocate, retail and food businesses can't because location matters when you're serving consumers. And since these businesses often have very low profit margins, yes, obviously there are going to be price increases, possibly massive ones, unless they make huge cutbacks to personnel.

More Reason coverage of L.A.'s minimum wage experiment here.

NEXT: Republicans Have Waded Into the Fever Swamps

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  1. One labor study calculates that increasing the minimum wage to $15 could increase the cost of food by 43 percent.

    Corporate greed! Market failure! We need price controls!

    1. There will be food deserts! Government will have to step in and do something!

        1. That was a very risky joke. Leave out one s, you just look like and idiot.

    2. But see, the new wage is a 100% increase for those people living hand-to-mouth so its a net win for them… at least the ones that can keep their job.

      I fully expect the next ordinance to outlaw downsizing.

      Then they’ll outlaw moving or closing your business.

      Then they will have the utopia they’ve been waiting for.

      1. Sounds like France.

        Notice how all the states and cities in the US with French names are economic shitholes: Detroit, Illinois, New Orleans, St. Louis, etc.

    3. It’s all part of the plan *adjusts tinfoil hat to block newest signal angles*

  2. So this must mean Scott gets a raise!

  3. Cool. Can anyone suggest a mfg. of point of purchase computers as a good stock play?

    1. I’ve been told that switching to those things won’t happen, even as I’ve pointed to evidence that it already is.

    2. Several places I’ve been use iPads.

      But their stock, uh, didn’t do too well yesterday.

  4. Looks like the Green Party has successfully gained enough signatures to have voters in Portland, Maine to decide whether or not to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15/hr. What could possibly go wrong?…

    1. Voters might not approve it. That would be time for tears, delicious salty ham tears.

      (Are crocodile tears salty?)

      1. Is it a salt water crocodile?

        1. If it doesn’t taste like ham, I’m not interested.

            1. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.

              I do have actual jamon serrano (and iberico).

              1. I had it in Spain. The chips and the Jamon. Delicious!

  5. So what would happen to the LA county government if every parcel of land incorporated with one town or another?

    1. Interesting …. San Francisco and a few other cities are both city and county, but in those cases, it’s just one city, so the overlay is easy. Are there any counties which have no unincorporated area?

      1. Any in CA or any anywhere? There definitely are such counties.

        1. Yes, there must be. I think Ohio has something like 150 counties, and for such a small state, there must be plenty which are entirely covered by one or more cities. I wonder what the county admin does other than soak up taxes.

          1. There must be some county property for them to administer too. At least some buildings and a fleet of vehicles. Also, some counties still provide services and utilities to people in incorporated areas.

          2. In Pennsylvania, only Philadelphia

      2. Fulton County, Georgia (Atlanta) is getting close. Only the portion of the county south of The City of Atlanta is unincorporated at this point.

      3. I believe Arlington, VA is such a place, if I get the gist of what you’re talking about.

        1. Arlington is a county, but there is no city. Alexandria is a city, but it’s in no county.

          Virginia can be weird.

  6. Stop kvetching. This will turn out well because those proposing it have good intentions, so nothing bad can happen.

  7. Good. I want Progressive policies to fuck over localities so hard that debating them at a National level would be considered political suicide.

    1. No kidding. $15 per hour everywhere! Rip the bandaid off.

    2. Like after Detroit no one wants Democrats at national level?

      1. Detroit was a slow decline that sadly has been largely and successfully blamed on white flight and racial discord. What could they successfully blame a very quick rise is unemployment, a decrease in new businesses/ increase in businesses shutting down/relocating, and a massive rise in prices on? People are stupid, but not THAT stupid.

        1. What could they successfully blame a very quick rise is unemployment, a decrease in new businesses/ increase in businesses shutting down/relocating, and a massive rise in prices on?

          White flight and racial discord! They are marvelous concepts, you can blame no end of things on them 🙂

          1. Don’t forget the Koch brothers – those guys are magical!

            1. That motorcycle dude in that Koch commercial is smokin’ hot.

              I’m sold!


              /tinfoil hat prog

    3. National minimum wage makes no sense. $1 in Mississippi, Louisiana, or Texas is worth a lot more than $1 in Maryland, New York, etc. $15/hr would kill a lot businesses in the South

      1. Feature, not a bug!

      2. To anyone with not even basic economic literacy, but with simple common sense, this is obviously true. But to the average proglodyte: “living wage!”, “obscene profits!”, “my feelz!”

      3. This is why unions are pushing it.

      4. Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway have no minimum wage – and they’re the best areas of Europe.

  8. Fucking marginal return- how does it work?

  9. You’re going to hurt a huge group of unskilled employees who won’t get a shot at a job since they aren’t worth $15+ an hour to hire.

    Progressives need to understand that the economy needs shitty, low-paid jobs as well as good, higher-paid jobs. Everybody of a certain age can remember their first shitty jobs, and they can tell you that it made a difference in their lives, in how they approached work later in life.

    1. This. My first job wasn’t at $15/hr, even when corrected for inflation.

      1. My first job was an under-the-table concession stand job at the little league park. It was 1997 and I made $4 and hour, plus the occasional tip. Good times…

      2. My current job started at something like $500 or $550 a week full time, so less than $15/hr, and it requires a fair amount of skills and experience. A $15 minimum wage is just insane.

    2. Everybody of a certain age can remember their first shitty jobs, and they can tell you that it made a difference in their lives

      Even if the primary difference was to say “Holy shit, I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life so I better do something with my life.”

      1. Exactly. I grew up in a restaurant family, so I learned quickly that the dishroom isn’t the best place to be. But I also learned the value of hard work and being responsible.

        1. I fondly remember my first case of Jock Itch from getting soaked washing the dishes at the university dining hall.

    3. I feel like I did nothing but work in high school. Babysitting, working as an artist’s assistant (she said “you’re not supposed to be this conservative until you’re much older!”.) and a cashier in a movie theater.

      All paid peanuts, but I had a coupla grand in the bank by the time I gradumacated.

    4. I was 8 years of age and I had an after school route. I would walk up the commercial street near my home and stop in at a number of businesses and ask the owners if they had a chore for me to do. Sometimes it was ‘go to the grocery store and buy 1 quart of milk and a loaf of bread’, sometimes I would clean up a garbage can that had been rooted through by dogs. I got $.05 or $.10, which was actually pretty good money in those days. $.10 bought me a coke, another $.10 bought me a Superman comic.

      Or, I would shag baseballs at the park for the big league guys (big league being 18 year olds), for $.25 a game. Sometimes I was a bat boy, which was way better than shagging balls, and I’d get $.25 and usually a pop.

      First life changing job – $.50 ph at the local boys club, saved up and bought myself a motorbike when I was 15. Oh yeah!

      First really life changing job – selling vacuum cleaners door to door to support a family. I thought,
      ‘man, if I can do this’ (which I could) ‘and make $100 a day I bet I could make a ton selling those’ (while looking at an apartment building. I got a real estate license, which I only had a year, but it led me to buying and selling and developing. I’ve done okay. I had some tough years. But, overall hard work was good for me.

  10. He said some businesses in nearby unincorporated communities had voiced concern about the county’s wage boost and inquired about having their areas annexed by the city to avoid increased labor costs.

    Kulaks & wreckers!

  11. Bring on the robots!

  12. inquired about having their areas annexed by the city to avoid increased labor costs.

    wait, what?

    1. Annexed by the city of Palmdale, which would then make it exempt from the county’s $15 minimum wage in unincorporated areas. The county can’t force incorporated cities to raise their minimum wage, and currently only Los Angeles City proper has been dumb enough to do so voluntarily.

  13. yes, obviously there are going to be price increases, possibly massive ones

    There will also be businesses that outright close. But, this is completely unforseeable so when low-skilled workers can’t work at all there will be much surprise – but hey at least they’ll have their dignity.

    1. There will also be businesses that outright close.

      Most of them will be of the local mom-n-pop variety that the progs orgasm over. And when a neighborhood becomes nothing but McD’s and Dollar Trees, the progs will whine about how there are no locally-owned businesses anymore.

      1. Dollar Trees?!

        I am a Dollar General man, m’self!

        1. Screw you and your Dollar General! I just got a whole cabinet full of nice drinking glasses at Dollar TREE! (and now my cupboard doesn’t look like a college student lives there)

      2. I think little Mom and Pops will do fine. Starbuck’s gets killed. Overstaffed, poorly staffed, lousy coffee, suddenly jumping to $5.00 for a medium latte. Meanwhile the couple down the street that work 14 hour days themselves raise their prices to $4 from $3.25, clobber Starbucks and make more.

  14. What these progtards don’t realize is that, no matter what wage they mandate, in the end, the minimum wage is ZERO.

    If we keep raising the cost of hiring employees, more and more people will make that minimum wage as companies replace humans with robots.

    1. The cost of hiring employees? That’s so callous! Employees are people with needs! They deserve a living wage! All businesses can afford to pay a living wage if they’d just dip into some of their obscene profits! And if they can’t afford to pay a living wage and stay in business, then they don’t deserve to be in business! As far as automation goes, that’s not the intention so it can’t be the result!

      1. Don’t worry about where the money will come from. Localities that raise the minimum wage will soon be awash in money. Yes, people are actually telling me that.

        1. Phase 1: Raise minimum wage
          Phase 2: ???
          Phase 3: PROFIT!

        2. I love the $15 ph minimum wage. Seriously. Its affects will be seen almost immediately. If the proggies are right and the localities that raise the rate are awash in money, then good for them. Everyone will follow suit. If those of us with a brain are right then good for us, the proggies will be shown to have been wrong.

  15. My first job as an engineering intern was $13/hour, and that was fucking great. And in 2008, for anybody who wants to tell me I’m old. $15/hour will make it much, much harder for students to get paid internships.

    1. I’m currently working 2 jobs. A legal internship at $17/hour (I get other perks, including tuition remission) and a program assistant at $11/hour. If minimum wage were $15/hour, there are a ton of less stressful jobs that I could do and get paid (almost) the same. I keep a finger on the pulse of the internship market, and my (relatively shitty compared to my other summer internship and my “day job” during the school year) $17/hour internship is downright luxurious. $10-13/hour is the average for a legal internship.

      How many of these internships would still exist at $15/hour? Some would, because it’s not really about the money for those law firms, but most would go away.

      1. That’s not too shabby for an internship. I was in law school during the financial crisis, when paid jobs just vanished for students.

    2. While in college, I delivered Pizza for $3.35. The I flipped burgers for $3.35. After I graduated and got married, I entered data into a bank’s computer for $4.81 (10k/yr). After a few months I started at my current job making $5/hr. Now I make $38/hr.

  16. Annexed by the city of Palmdale

    Ah- thx.

      1. The Klingon’s?

      2. The City of Houston?

  17. Look- they’re called employers
    for a reason. These organizations only exist to hand out paychecks on Friday.

    1. Exactly. This is why it’d be much more efficient for the government to just hand out the checks directly and cut out the middle man.

    2. Exactly. This is why it’d be much more efficient for the government to just hand out the checks directly and cut out the middle man.

  18. *pops bag of popcorn*

    This ought to be entertaining…

    1. Darnit, there is nothing more vile than to leave the odor of freshly popped popcorn in the air.

      1. Yeah there is. The smell of freshly burnt popcorn.

    2. Pfft. *Opens bottle of Jura single malt*

      If you’re going to hell in a handbasket, no need to skimp.

  19. Lifting all boats raises the tide, right?

    1. Kennedy’s inaugural speech. Translated by R. Mugabe

    2. That’s great. I like that.

  20. I’ve yet to hear a logical, coherent argument as to why we’re stopping at only $15 an hour.

    1. It can only be explained by corporate greed. If we just made the minimum wage $150/hr, everyone would be rich, but those evil fat cats are stopping it!!!!!!

  21. I think the $15 number is based on some bogus “poverty level” calculation. Or, perhaps, pulled out of Robert Reich’s ass; same thing.
    It might as well be $350/hr. We’ll all be millionaires!

  22. I have a shitty part time dishwasher job, my last job was a part time shitty dishwasher job. One employed about 10. One employees about 30. The latter might be able to adjust its prices. I’d say they both just fucking shut the fuck down.

    1. My favourite job when I owned bars and hotels with restaurants in them. Being the dishpig for a few hours.

  23. And when this doesn’t work, its supporters will just say it has to be statewide to have the proper effect.

  24. Don’t worry, the unions will be able to negotiate lower wages!

    So many things wrong with that sentence.

    1. Yeah, how will that work?

      Biz: “The minimum wage is $15/hour. If we pay that, we’ll be out of business in a month.”

      Union: “Not to worry! We have a special dispensation to negotiate a lower wage.”

      Biz: “Awesome! We’ll pay $12/hour.”

      Union: “We can’t go back to our members with a pathetic $3/hour! You’ll pay $10, and like it.”

      Biz: “Geez, I dunno, $10/hour . . . .”

      Union: “$9/hour, and that’s my final offer!”

  25. Govt. cannot tell businesses what their labor is worth, only the business can determine that.

    1. How dare you tell someone how much they are worth! They are a human being. It’s all about needz!!

  26. Being a poor conservative, I have seen the pay, of my cohorts, has not kept up, with the pay of those in the higher income levels. The minimum wage is much lower than it was in, even, the recent past! Why could a family man, working in a factory, in the sixties, be able to support a family. Yet, nowadays, with both adults working, full time, they cannot make enough to support their family!? I find this very disconcerting. I hate being “socialist” about this. But a man could raise a family by working the 40 hr work week, at the factory. The relative wages have dropped, terribly. Why do we accept the CEO situation to remain, where they are being given salaries that were 900% more than the line workers in the factory. Why did his happen?! Should the people feeding the machine not benefit from its profits? I am sure the stockholders like high dividends!

    Yet, it seems to have established a working poor, class of employees. All the while, the rich seem to be getting richer! It is, just, not right!

  27. They will be able to cut back, if fewer people are able to afford the prices, say, at a fast food joint. It might actually resemble the supply and demand, sort of economics, that our economy should represent! I remember the five for a dollar hamburgers when I grew up in small town, USA! Now, you can’t get one for a dollar. Even, the Mcdoubles have gone up in price!

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