Business & Economy

New LA minimum wage takes effect: What does it mean for workers?

Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks at a rally at Grand Park to celebrate LA's new minimum wage.
Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks at a rally at Grand Park to celebrate LA's new minimum wage.
Ben Bergman/KPCC

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After all of the debates and studies, Los Angeles minimum wage workers finally got some extra money in their pockets Friday.

The minimum wage went up to $10.50 an hour for workers at businesses with more than 25 employees in the cities of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Malibu, Pasadena, and unincorporated areas of the county. 

"This is what history feels like," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at a celebration rally in Grand Park. "Today Los Angeles becomes the first big city in America to climb to a $15 an hour minimum wage."

Los Angeles Workers will have to wait awhile to get to $15 an hour – until 2020 at most businesses. California's $15 minimum wage does not take effect until 2022. However, minimum wage workers who attended the Grand Park event say having an extra 50 cents an hour in their pockets is still significant.

"It makes a huge difference because you multiply that 50 cents by the amount of hours you work in a week, and the next thing you know you have some extra money for lunch or you can cover your travel expenses to work," said Brian McNeil, who has worked construction, security and customer service jobs – almost always for minimum wage. 

"We're celebrating this day," said Fausto Hernandez, who works at a car wash in Santa Monica. "There's been so many years when we've gone to the grocery store but we haven't been able to make ends meet, so this increase makes a difference for how we provide for our families here and back home."

The minimum wage also went up Friday in 10 other U.S. cities, including Chicago and San Francisco, as well as in Maryland, Oregon and the District of Columbia. 

Meanwhile, minimum wage workers at the Los Angeles Unified School District got an even bigger raise Friday, to $15 an hour. Some 20,000 teacher assistants, custodians, cafeteria workers and other school workers will see a raise, according to the Service Employees International Union. 

"Lifting the minimum wage to $15 per hour at LAUSD is not only historic, it is courageous," said Max Arias, executive director of SEIU Local 99 in a prepared statement. "It means 20,000 school workers, many of them parents of LAUSD students, will begin to move out of poverty and ensure greater stability and opportunity for their children.”