West Hollywood, California, is enacting a minimum wage of $17.64 per hour.
The minimum wage — approved unanimously by the city council — will incrementally rise alongside the state’s overall wage floor.
The Guardian reports:
The wage hike will start taking affect in January for some workers and will gradually increase every six months until July 2023, eventually surpassing California’s minimum wage, which is set to reach $15 by 2022 for workplaces with more than 25 employees. California has the highest minimum wage of any state.
Some local business owners spoke against the increase, arguing that businesses were still struggling to recover from the pandemic and that the pay raise would push companies out of the city, while restaurant owners said their workers were already highly compensated.
“Fewer than 10% of our jobs pay enough to live in the city,” city councilmember John D’Amico told the outlet. “I believe we are now righting the founding wrong of this city. Keeping West Hollywood workers in a position where they cannot be our neighbors and worse, they have to learn how to live without a reliable income, this has to finally no longer be acceptable.”
Since the onset of COVID-19 and the lockdown-induced recession, many federal economic stimulus proposals have included minimum wage hikes.
In addition to Democrats’ attempt to include a wage increase in the American Rescue Plan, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) — who chairs the Senate Budget Committee — suggested “an amendment to take tax deductions away from large, profitable corporations that don’t pay workers at least $15 an hour.”
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced a similar minimum wage hike for companies that make over $1 billion in revenue: “Mega-corporations can afford to pay their workers $15 an hour, and it’s long past time they do so, but this should not come at the expense of small businesses already struggling to make it.”
Meanwhile, large employers are experimenting with technology that reduces reliance upon paid staff. Amazon opened a store featuring “cashierless checkout technology,” and McDonald’s partnered with IBM to automate drive-thrus after successful tests at restaurants in the Chicago area.
In a video for his Debunked series, Daily Wire editor emeritus Ben Shapiro pointed out that minimum wage hikes push entry-level employees out of the market.
“Say, for example, that there is a job that is currently being paid $8 an hour. Now the federal government says it’s going to be paid $15 an hour,” he said. “The people who were competing for a $15 an hour job were typically people who are going to be college-educated. They’re people who have more work experience, because a $15 an hour job was not the lowest level of job that you could obtain. But now, a $15 an hour job is the lowest level that you can obtain, and that means that if you are an employer, you’re going to be looking for a college graduate to flip burgers as opposed to a high school graduate.”
“All the people who have those high school degrees? Those people are kicked out of the labor markets in favor of people with a college degree that employers are now looking for to fill a $15 an hour job,” Shapiro continued. “Because again, the value of the job has not actually changed, it’s just that now you’ve opened up that job to a new pool of labor.”
“So, what does the minimum wage actually do? It creates artificial disparities in the labor market.”