Minimum wage will increase to $15 per hour by 2020, according to a measure signed into law Saturday by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti that is expected to impact more than 600,000 Angelenos.
"Today is a major victory for our city, our communities and working Angelenos across Los Angeles," Garcetti said in a statement announcing the signing.
The ordinance was the city’s largest anti-poverty measure, and will increase the minimum wage by $6 - from the current $9 per hour rate, according to the news release.
More than 600,000 people currently earn minimum wage in Los Angeles, 97 percent of which are 20 years or older and 60 percent being over 30.
The wage will also aid people of color, who account for 80 percent of those earning minimum wage, as well as women who account for about half, the mayor’s office stated.
Backers of the measure hope its changes could spread across the nation, eventually aiding millions of Americans, the Los Angeles Times reported.
But people remain divided over how the wage increase will impact Los Angeles’ economy, as the conclusions of three different studies have shown stark differences in potential outcomes, the Times reported.
The mayor’s office, however, remained adamant that the city will benefit.
"While our city's economic health continues to roar back— we have the highest employment levels on record - too many Angelenos are still being left behind,” Garcetti said. “Today's minimum wage increase addresses that gap, enabling working families in L.A. to lift themselves out of poverty and tying our minimum wage to the cost of living to make this justice last.”
Los Angeles has always prospered when people are able to spend and put money back into the economy, the mayor said.
Garcetti signed the ordinance at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in South Los Angeles where he first launched the campaign to raise the minimum wage on Labor Day of last year.
The minimum wage was expected to be increased at businesses with more than 25 employees to $10.50 per hour by next year, $12 by 2017, $13.25 by 2018, $14.25 by 2019 and $15 by 2020. Each increase was scheduled to be implemented on July 1 of the stated year.
Businesses with 25 or fewer employees were required to increase wages at a rate one year behind larger businesses, with a wage of $10.50 expected to be implemented in 2017 and annual increases thereafter until $15 per hour is reached in 2021.
By 2022, the minimum wage was expected to be increased based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers for the area, the mayor’s office stated.
Garcetti also signed an ordinance into law establishing the Office of Labor Standards, tasked with fighting wage theft and making sure workers are paid adequately.
A $500,000 budget was allotted in the 2015-16 fiscal year to fund investigations and outreach efforts.