Business & Economy

Another week, another minimum wage study. Is it necessary?

"We need to ensure that we collect data, study national and local workforce trends, and most importantly ensure that the process is open and balanced," Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

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It is a great time to be an economist, because right now the only thing more popular than enacting $15 wages is studying $15 wages.

Long Beach – the seventh largest city in California – is the latest municipality to announce it's studying a higher wage, or at least planning to vote on studying it next week.

In March, three different economic teams produced reports on the city of Los Angeles' wage hike. They were commissioned by labor groups, the Chamber of Commerce, and the city. Each study reached different conclusions. Months later, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors asked The Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation to study the impact of a wage hike in the county’s unincorporated areas. 

The same firm is being commissioned now to study the impacts of a higher minimum wage in Long Beach. It will take several months and cost upwards of $65,000, according to Mayor Robert Garcia.

"We need to ensure that we collect data, study national and local workforce trends, and most importantly ensure that the process is open and balanced," Garcia said in a statement. "While I appreciate the conversation and work that has happened in Los Angeles and other jurisdictions, Long Beach will look towards creating a policy that reflects the needs and interests of our residents and business community."

In other words, what works for Los Angeles may not work for Long Beach.

Almost a year ago, Santa Monica also ordered up a minimum wage analysis that would have come out at the end of this year. However, in June the city decided to abandon the study in order speed up the process of actually enacting a higher wage, which will likely happen next month.

“Frankly, I think Los Angeles moved a bit faster than we thought, and while they didn’t flesh out their ordinance entirely they certainly spurred us to move more quickly,” said Mayor Kevin McKeown.

Rusty Hicks, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, was quick to praise Long Beach's announcement that it is voting on studying the wage.

“Almost 40 percent of Long Beach workers earn less than $15/hour," Hicks said in a statement. "A higher minimum wage in Long Beach will complement other cities’ efforts and make a huge impact on working families in the Southern California region, by lifting them out of poverty.”