LA County City Raises Minimum Wage to Country-High $17.64

LA County City Raises Minimum Wage to Country-High $17.64 man walks down street holding sign that says will work for fair wage (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Friday, 05 November 2021 10:28 AM

A Los Angeles County city council has approved what will be the country's highest minimum wage.

The West Hollywood City Council met Wednesday and voted unanimously to raise the minimum wage to $17.64 beginning Jan. 1 for all hotel workers, and July 1 for all other workers.

The minimum wage will increase on July 1 each year in accordance with the Annual Consumer Price Index Adjustment, according to a statement on the council website, Business Insider reported.

The proposed wage increase — as well as 96 hours of paid sick, vacation, and personal leave — still needs to be officially passed, likely in a mid-November meeting.

If passed, the new wage would top the $17.13 per hour currently set by Emeryville, California, which is recognized to date as the highest in the country.

The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 per hour since 2009.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology said the amount needed to support oneself in Los Angeles, the living wage, is $19.35 an hour, KABC reported.

"We made the dream of all of our city come true by raising our minimum wage," West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore Sepi Shyne said, CBSLA reported.

California’s minimum wage currently ranges between $13 to $14, second only to Washington D.C.'s $15.20, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

The minimum wage in the city of L.A., for employers with 26 or more workers, is $15 per hour, and $14.25 for employers with 25 or fewer workers, CBSLA reported.

While West Hollywood workers applauded the council’s vote, some local business owners urged the panel to give it some time so they can make up back rent from the pandemic.

"I just implore you to really give this a lot of thought because I do believe if we raise the minimum wage now it's going to be counterproductive," Lisa Vanderpump, West Hollywood restaurateur and reality TV star, said during the city council meeting, KABC reported.

"When people say it’s no big deal, it’s just two dollars, I don’t have any money in my bank account," restaurant owner David Fanarof said, CBSLA reported. "I owe $180,000 … in back rent. I’ve taken out loans."

In July, the West Hollywood City Council approved an ordinance allowing for workers who were laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic to get their jobs back.

The ordinance also ensured that workers are paid extra when required to clean more than 3,500 square feet during an eight-hour workday, CBSLA reported.