County Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis said they look forward to the results of a minimum wage study anticipated to win approval at the Board’s weekly meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, March 31 at 9:30 a.m. at the County’s Hall of Administration downtown.
In their joint motion, Kuehl and Solis note that under the California Poverty Measure, 2.7 million residents, or nearly 27% of the County’s population, live in poverty. Even by the more stringent federal guidelines, unchanged since Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” program was launched in 1965, nearly one in five County residents are too poor to afford the basic necessities of life including safe housing, healthy food, clothing, and adequate medical care.
“It shocks the conscience to realize that we have an impoverished population as large as the city of Chicago in the midst of this land of plenty,” Supervisor Kuehl said. “But raising the minimum wage is even more than a matter of social justice,” Kuehl added. “We cannot build and support a healthy regional economy on the backs of our lowest-paid residents.”
Supervisor Hilda Solis said that “We are aware that increasing wages can sometimes bring unintended consequences,” adding, “As a result, I fully support this study because it will help us determine the best way of bringing a higher standard of living to those earning a minimum wage, while ensuring that local and small business owners are not adversely affected.”
The Kuehl/Solis motion would commission the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, a private organization providing non-partisan analysis and policy leadership, to review and assess four minimum-wage studies produced for the City of Los Angeles and to examine potential economic impacts and benefits on businesses in the County’s unincorporated areas. The office of the County CEO is asked to assess the potential impact on pay schedules within the County workforce, where more than 5,000 employees, roughly 5% of the County’s workers, earn below $15.25 an hour and 2500 earn below $13.25 an hour, as well as computing the impact on certain County vendors.
Kuehl said the LAEDC study is expected back in 45 days, and the CEO’s analyses are due in 60 days, including an assessment of the impacts on those receiving public benefits such as CalWORKS, a state program providing financial assistance to eligible needy families with children to help pay for housing, food, utilities, clothing, medical care, and other essentials, and CalFresh, a federally funded program that helps low-income people buy healthy and nutritious food.