As other U.S. cities, like Los Angeles, raise the minimum wage and the issue of income inequality gains more of a national spotlight thanks to the 2016 presidential election, one California city is headed away from the trend.
Irvine, which is an affluent suburb about 40 miles south of Los Angeles, passed its living wage ordinance in 2007. It required city contractors to pay workers more than the California’s $9-per-hour minimum.
“There are very few cases that I’m aware of in modern history of either living wages or minimum wages being repealed,” an economist told Marketplace. “My guess is these companies will be able to pay slightly lower wages. They’ll probably have somewhat more employees — somewhat more jobs, at somewhat lower wages.”
The median household income in Irvine is about $90,000. The living wage ordinance required a minimum wage of $10.82 an hour plus benefits. It passed when Democrats ran the city council, which is now Republican controlled. Marketplace reports:
Councilman Jeff Lalloway voted in the overwhelming majority to repeal the living wage. At a city council meeting, Lalloway said the living wage isn’t enough to live off of anyway. “It’s a feel-good wage,” he says.
The state’s minimum will go into effect as contracts run out.
Jenn Stanley is a freelance journalist, essayist and independent producer living in Chicago. She has an M.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.