The push for a higher minimum wage just got a major boost courtesy of Los Angeles. The city council has approved raising it to $15 an hour by 2020, reports the Los Angeles Times. Under the plan, the rate will rise from $9 to $10.50 in July 2016, then tick up annually to $12, $13.25, $14.25, and $15. Businesses with 25 or fewer workers will get an extra year to phase it in. Though a handful of other cities have voted for a $15 rate, including Seattle, Los Angeles is the biggest city to do so. The move doesn't become official until the city attorney's office drafts an ordinance and sends it back to council members for their approval, but once it does, it's going to affect a lot of people, notes the New York Times.
The newspaper cites one study showing that about 40% of workers in the city make less than $15 an hour. The city's chamber of commerce predicts layoffs as a result. "It's simple math," says one official. "There is simply not enough room, enough margin in these businesses to absorb a 50-plus percent increase in labor costs over a short period of time." But one longtime McDonald's worker, a mother of two now making $9.05 an hour, tells the Guardian that the move is overdue. “My life would be completely different if I were paid $15 an hour," she says. "I could afford groceries without needing food stamps, my family could stop sharing our apartment with renters for extra money, and I’d be able to provide my daughters with some security.”