Workers celebrate LA’s new $12 minimum wage, businesses brace for impact – Los Angeles Times

More than half a million Angelenos stand to get a raise this weekend, making the city the latest testing ground in the drive to boost incomes of bottom-rung workers.

Some businesses, facing a labor crunch, didn’t even wait for the new, $12 minimum wage to officially kick in.

Josh Loeb started doling out pay bumps among the 400 employees of his six mostly upscale restaurants about a month ago. He paid for it by inching up prices at those Santa Monica haunts, adding a dollar to an organic chicken, and 50 cents to a sandwich or salad.

“It’s got to come from somewhere,” said Loeb.

When the minimum wage in Los Angeles climbed from $10.50 to $12 an hour for large businesses on July 1, it marked the fourth such increase in three years, and the single largest year-over-year jump in the city’s scheduled climb to $15 for all employees by 2021.

The increase affects companies with 26 or more employees; smaller businesses follow suit in January. Santa Monica, Pasadena and unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County also went to $12 on Saturday. The state is also headed to $15, but on a slower schedule.

The city’s pay raise will add more than a billion dollars to local payrolls, according to estimates by the Economic Roundtable, a Los Angeles research group.

“It is a very important step toward these workers being able to afford to live in Los Angeles and to be able to afford the basic necessities for their families,” said Dan Flaming, the president of the Roundtable, who conducted the analysis.

But even before restaurant and other low-wage workers began protesting five years ago for higher pay — a movement that coalesced into the union-led Fight for $15 — economists were arguing about who benefits from raising the minimum wage, and at what cost. The latest round of debate was sparked Tuesday by a new study of jobs and pay in Seattle.

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