Northridge Mall has many stores that pay minimum wage such as Auntie Anne’s, Ben and Jerry’s, Banana Republic, etc. Photo taken by Allen Cuevas.

As time progresses into a new year, we can also expect to see the minimum wage increase. Starting in the summer, the minimum wage of Los Angeles County will change from $15 an hour to $16. Considering how in the beginning of the year the minimum wage increased to $15, we can see how this sudden accretion has impacted many who reside in LA County.

Effective the first of July, businesses with 26 or more employees will have a minimum wage of $16 an hour and for businesses with less than 25 will make an hourly pay of $15.

According to the Bungalow, the average rent cost in LA County before the pandemic is roughly $2500, however RentCafe reported that the average rent for an apartment in LA County is around $2660. With that abrupt spike, a lot of tenants who do not make above minimum wage have difficulties making these payments even with the exponential rates of the wage.

Alayla Porter who works in the hospitality field making minimum wage shares how it is not enough for people to live off.

“Well in theory, it’s good that the wage increases but the rate at which it rises doesn’t keep up with inflation.” Porter shares, “Especially in a place like California or even more specifically Los Angeles.”

In an expensive city, like Los Angeles, minimum wage will not coincide with a living wage. Many full-time workers do not have a savings or retirement fund because the majority of their checks go to bills or whatever needs they need to cover.

Jasmine Gonsalvo who has been working several years making minimum wage now just recently obtained a higher paying job as a Title Assistant still not making a livable wage in LA County. 

“Although I make more than the minimum wage, I do not think that it is a decent amount of money to live comfortably while saving.” Gonsalvo said. “I try my best to save my money but I feel like all of us are now trained to work more than 40 hours a week just to get by and that’s not a good way to live.”

Homeless encampment in Chatsworth CA, right across the street from the Crunch Fitness Gym. Photo taken by Allen Cuevas.

Some people have resorted to being homeless because people who make minimum wage cannot afford stable housing. This can also put the homelessness percentage at a higher rate if there is still a gap between housing costs and making the minimum wage at a livable wage.

As LA County continues to be more and more expensive, minimum wage employees are resulting in overworking themselves or taking on another job. 

“Inflation just means that even though a minimum wage worker would be ‘making more money’ all of these things are just getting expensive, just maintaining the gap that was just starting to get closed.” Porter said. 

Minimum wage will continue to impact and tarnish LA County as long as the gap between inflation and the rising minimum wage exists. With the rising gas prices and rising costs of rent, it will not coincide with the minimum wage being a living wage. 

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