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Here's What Happened When Pasadena Raised Its Minimum Wage




An employee at Orchard Supply Hardware in South Pasadena restocks chainsaws to the front of the store on Friday morning.
An employee at Orchard Supply Hardware in South Pasadena restocks chainsaws to the front of the store on Friday morning.
Grant Slater/KPCC

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California is on track to reach a $15 minimum wage in coming years, and some cities are getting there faster than others.

That means we could have early answers to a slew of familiar questions: Can raising wages too quickly hurt a city's economy? Will workers actually earn more? Or could they lose their jobs when employers either go out of business or flee to places with lower minimum wages?

Two new reports looking at recent minimum wage hikes in Pasadena shed some light on these debates. Their findings suggest that workers there are making more money, employment hasn't gone down and businesses aren't going away.

"I think there are indications of concern," said UCLA economist Ed Leamer, who led one of the reports. "But I wouldn't, at this point, say the minimum wage has turned out to be an inappropriate public policy."

Leamer and UC Berkeley economist Michael Reich, who led the other report, will present their findings at a Pasadena city council meeting on Monday. Council members will then decide whether the city should stay on course to reach a $15 minimum wage 18 months before the state as a whole — or if they should pump the brakes on future wage increases.

Read David’s piece on tonight’s meeting on LAist.

Guests:

Peter Dreier, he is on the board of directors of Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (POP), a community advocacy group that works on a variety of issues including workers’ rights; professor of politics at Occidental College

Paul Little, president and CEO of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce & Civic Association; he served on the Pasadena City Council for 12 years (1995-2007)  



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