A California city approved the highest minimum wage in the US… but is it enough?

West Hollywood just approved the highest minimum wage rate in the country, but it still falls short of the city’s living wage rate.

On Thursday, West Hollywood, California, voted to increase the minimum wage to $17.64/hour, the highest in the US and more than 2x the federal rate of $7.25/hour. But according to MIT’s living wage calculator, even the highest-paying cities might not be paying enough.

The new wages take effect Jan. 1, 2022, for hotel workers — in line with surrounding Los Angeles — and incrementally for everyone else.

Why West Hollywood?

West Hollywood is a small, 1.9-square-mile city within Greater Los Angeles, population 36k+ — and it’s expensive!

Per a staff report, City Council considered MIT’s living wage calculator, which takes into account expenses like housing, food, and taxes. It says the living wage for a single Los Angeles County resident with no children would be $19.35/hour.

But this figure is based on average monthly housing costs of $1,279. In West Hollywood, the average 1-bed rents for $1.8k-$2k per month.

Drama: “Real Housewives” star Lisa Vanderpump was one of several West Hollywood business owners to oppose the wage hike. But she’s also being sued for allegedly not paying her employees the existing minimum wage.

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