LA Minimum Wage Increase: Helping Workers or Hurting Consumers?

By Annika Pearson, ND Knight Magazine Editor

For all the frozen yogurt servers, bakery workers and smoothie makers of Notre Dame: your work is paying off a little more, literally.

Starting July 1, 2016, Los Angeles’s minimum wage increased from $10 an hour to $10.50 for businesses with over 25 people.

Between school, extra curricular activities, and social lives, many students only work the weekends. So, if a student works two eight-hour shifts on a Saturday and Sunday, they will make $8 more than normal.

So, what would Notre Dame students do with that $32 a month increase?

“I would spend $32 dollars probably on clothes or food,” says Addison Valdez, a senior working at a frozen yogurt shop.

Senior Ava Harold working at Starbucks. (Photo by Ava Harold. Caption by Erin Neil.)

Senior Jamie Dunn says, “$32 would pay for my gas for the week.”

Some companies are already paying more than the minimum wage, but will still increase their pay by the end of the year. Senior Ava Harold works as a barista at Starbucks, and currently makes $11 per hour, a dollar above the previous minimum wage. “I am excited for my hopeful raise because it will help me reach my monetary goal…going into college, which is around $10,000,” she says.

Senior Chiara Diona sees a different side to the pay rise. Working at Domingo’s Italian Deli, a small family business, Chiara will not benefit from the $.50 increase until 2017 because her company employs fewer than 25 people.

While students are saving their pennies, they may be forced to pay more of them. “As payment rises, so will the cost of pretty much everything else, so I see no real purpose in the raise,” Chiara explains.

Businesses are on a budget, meaning that the increase could force them to decrease their staff and increase prices to protect their profits. In an interview with NBCLA News, an LA restaurant owner Jonny Velenti says, “Unfortunately we will have to pass along some of the costs to the customer…keep a tighter eye with pay roll, [and] do more with less.”

Whether it’s going to help workers or hurt consumers, the minimum wage increase will continue to escalate until it reaches $15 per hour by 2021.

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