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Minimum wage expected to hit an all-time high in Southern California

West Hollywood is moving toward a pay floor of $17.64 an hour.
West Hollywood's restaurant scene/Photo: Shutterstock

The City Council of West Hollywood, Calif., voted unanimously Thursday to raise the trend-setting area’s minimum wage to $17.64 an hour, a rate believed to be the highest in the nation.

If the increase is ratified in a second reading and vote, as required by the council’s procedural rules, hotel workers would be entitled to the new minimum starting Jan. 1.

The pay floor for employees of restaurants and other businesses would be raised to that level beginning Jan. 1 in six-month increments. The stepped increases would bring the minimum to $17.64 for all employers by July 1, 2023.

Thereafter, the minimum would be adjusted every July 1 to reflect changes in a consumer-price index.

The current minimum wage for the city is $13 an hour for employers with fewer than 25 workers and $14 for larger companies. The local rate is trumped by the statewide minimum of $14 an hour.

The second reading and vote is expected to take place on Nov. 15.

West Hollywood, known for such iconic destinations as the Sunset Strip, is a relatively small area of Los Angeles County, and sits cheek-to-jowl with the city of Los Angeles.

Council members said the wage hike is necessary because of the area’s high cost of living. They purposely chose a new minimum that would be higher than the permissible wage of any other jurisdiction in the nation, hailing the move as a trend-setter.

“Raising the minimum wage to the highest in the country is us using our small shoe, our 1.9 square-mile shoe, that we know leaves an enormous footprint,” Councilmember John D’Amico said in a statement. “We can change the world and I have a sense we are starting something much bigger for workers across the country.”

If the increase should be approved on a second consideration, it will eclipse what is believed to be the current highwater mark in mandated wages, the $17.13 an hour that’s demanded of employers in Emeryville, Calif. That threshold was set in July.

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