Push Toward $15 Wage Floor Gains Momentum in America’s Two Largest Cities

by Mitchell Hirsch

In the last two weeks, elected officials in New York City and Los Angeles have taken critical steps to raise minimum wages in their cities, with both setting a course toward a $15 an hour wage floor.

The Los Angeles City Council will soon take up a measure introduced this week that would raise the minimum wage in the city to $13.25 by 2017 and put it on a path beyond that to $15.25. Mayor Eric Garcetti had previously calledfor the $13.25 minimum wage hike, a plan that would raise pay for more than a half a million struggling Angelenos.  The Council measure would also seek a plan to raise the citywide minimum to $15.25 by 2019.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio last week signed an executive order expanding the city’s living wage ordinance, immediately boosting wages paid by employers in city-subsidized economic development projects to $13.13 for workers who don’t receive benefits, and then phasing it up to $15.00 by 2019. Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo, meanwhile, are pressing state lawmakers to enact legislation allowing municipalities to set their own minimum wages up to 30 percent higher than the state level.  That would enable New York City and other cities in the state to establish citywide minimum wages of $13.13, further propelling future progress toward $15 an hour.

Local minimum wage increases are increasingly being taken up and enacted to boost pay for low-wage workers in cities across the country.