Will you actually be richer when your pay is raised to $15 per hour?
Perhaps the question seems ludicrous. Of course you’re better off making $15 an hour than you were at $9 per hour, right? But the answer is, unfortunately, not as obvious as you might think. And the question itself–will workers getting a raise be better off?–has been missing from this fall’s white-hot debate over efforts in San Francisco and Los Angeles to establish $15 per hour minimum wages.
Instead, in California we’ve seen the same old tired arguments over whether a higher minimum wage hurts business and reduces jobs–or whether it boosts the economy by giving workers more money to spend. For the record, I think a higher minimum wage makes sense in today’s California; $15 per hour isn’t much anymore in our coastal cities. But I’m troubled by our failure to consider the real-world impact of minimum-wage hikes on those who are supposed to benefit directly: the workers getting them.