Why California’s $15 an Hour Minimum Wage Hike Still Isn’t High Enough

Just over a month ago, California legislators signed onto a statewide $15 minimum wage initiative, which would allow the minimum wage to gradually increase until it reached $15 in 2022. Already, the bill has been met by much controversy. 

“The estimates are 700,000 people will lose their job over this,” Florida Governor Rick Scott told KPCC Monday before he spoke on a panel at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills. 

However - many in Los Angeles - one of the most expensive cities in America feel $15 an hour isn’t enough. ReasonTV asked Silverlake residents what they felt the minimum wage should be - and on a scale of $5-$100 most residents selected upwards of $15.

In South Dakota it only takes 49 minimum wage hours to afford average rent levels, while in California it takes nearly twice as many hours - 92. And four states - Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, plus the District of Columbia require more minimum wage hours to afford average rent.

But these factors probably won't be addressed by legislators soon. According to Employment Policies Institute, an overwhelming majority of American labor economists agree that minimum wage hikes are an inefficient way to address the needs of poor families.

"Over 73 percent of AEA labor economists believe that a significant increase will lead to employment losses and 68 percent think these employment losses fall disproportionately on the least-skilled. Only 6 percent feel that minimum wage hikes are an efficient way to alleviate poverty. The exact outcome of a minimum wage hike could vary drastically from one local economy to the next," EPI noted.

Even California Gov. Jerry Brown was skeptical, stating upon signing the bill that, "Economically, minimum wages may not make sense but morally and socially and politically they make every sense because they bind the community together.”

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