A report released recently by the Economic Roundtable indicates that raising the minimum wage in Long Beach could have a broad stimulus effect on the region and benefit businesses, workers and the overall economy in the shoreline city.
The Campaign to Raise Awareness is urging the Long Beach City Council to adopt a comprehensive minimum wage policy that includes a wage of $15 an hour tied to the cost of living, paid sick days beyond the state-mandated three days, and stronger, more effective wage enforcement to ensure workers are not having their wages allegedly “stolen” by their employer. Further, the study found that a hike would infuse an estimated $442 million in increased sales and add 3,186 new jobs to the region. The report was said to have demonstrated that increasing the minimum wage—and strict enforcement of the new policy—would generate almost $70 million in public revenue by 2020.
Hearings are currently ongoing in the Long Beach City Council.
“Raising the minimum wage to $15 in Long Beach and enforcing it wouldn’t just help workers, but would also put Long Beach on a path to become a stronger and more sustainable city,” said Daniel Flaming, president of the Economic Roundtable and author of the report.
The study is the latest in research that demonstrates that Long Beach workers need more money to rear their families. The city reportedly has 81,000 residents who are paid less than $15 an hour and about 22,300 workers who have family incomes below the poverty level. About one-third of all heads-of-households in Long Beach reportedly make less than $15 an hour, including 28 percent of African Americans, 39 percent of Latinos and 29 percent of females.
Long Beach is the second largest city and economy in the southern-most region of Los Angeles County; the Port of Long Beach generates an estimated $180 billion per year.
“Raising the minimum wage to $15 in Long Beach is smarter for the economy and enables a stronger workforce,” said Rusty Hicks, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. “It means that families will no longer have to make the decision between paying for rent or putting food on the table. Without local enforcement, employers will continue to commit ‘wage theft’ against their workers and not provide paid sick days.”
Low-wage jobs comprise a growing share of employment available to Long Beach residents, particularly over the past 40 years with the departure of the aerospace industry. Restaurants and retail establishments reportedly employ the largest number of workers living in poverty, with 69 percent of these persons in the food and hospitality industries and 55 percent of workers in the retail industry earning less than $15 per hour respectively.
A growing number of cities are looking at raising wages. In fact, the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ “Cities of Opportunity Task Force,” in August 2014 endorsed higher city minimum wages as key tools for fighting income inequality at the local level.
Among the cities around the nation that have already raised city minimum wages are Los Angeles to $15 by 2020-21; San Francisco to $15 by 2018; Chicago to $13 by 2019; Seattle to $15 by 2018-21, and New York City to $15 by 2019. Meetings are scheduled in Long Beach on Oct. 29 at 4901 E. Carson St. 7:30 a.m., Nov. 17 at Admiral Kidd Park, 2125 Santa Fe Ave., noon; Nov. 20 at Bay Shore Library, 195 Bay Shore Ave., 4 p.m. and Nov. 24 at Long Beach City Hall at 4p.m.