Hiking L.A.’s minimum wage would bring more benefits than costs to both Los Angeles and the region, according to a long-awaited and controversial study released Thursday afternoon.
The city-commissioned study, conducted by UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, found that raising the minimum wage in Los Angeles would result in a small drop in jobs within the city, offset by more jobs being created throughout the county.
Meanwhile, both business and labor groups weighed in with their own studies on the wage hikes. The business-commissioned study said many Los Angeles employers in low-wage industries would locate or expand outside the city, resulting in a net loss of jobs. The labor study concluded a higher wage would add billions of dollars in economic stimulus to the local economy.
The Valley Industry & Commerce Association, a business lobbying group, said it supported the business-commissioned study prepared by Beacon Economics and doubted the validity of the city-backed research.
"The results of the UC Berkeley study released today should be taken with a grain of salt," VICA President Stuart Waldman said in a statement.
A City Council committee is considering two proposals to hike the minimum wage: Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plan to increase the wage to $13.25 an hour by 2017 and a measure from several councilmembers to raise the wage to $15.25 by 2019.
When Garcetti unveiled his plan last year, he submitted a study from UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment that generally supported the notion of raising the wage to $13.25 an hour.
In a controversial move last fall, the City Council chose the same UC Berkeley institute to conduct another economic study, with instructions to examine the issue in more detail and with broader scope. Business groups criticized the choice, saying that the study’s outcome was pre-ordained.
And indeed, the Berkeley study’s conclusions were generally similar to that first study, with the added consideration of the council proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15.25 an hour.
The study’s authors said that if the $15.25 an hour wage hike were adopted, worker wages would increase by $2.4 billion, generating additional consumer spending throughout the county. That spending in turn would generate an additional 5,000 jobs countywide.
The study concluded that the costs of the wage hike to the city would be relatively minor, with only about 3,500 jobs being lost and a net drop in gross product of $315 million.
“The benefits of the proposed minimum wage law will largely outweigh the costs in Los Angeles city, and when the larger region is considered, the net impact of the law will be positive,” the authors concluded.