Pasadena’s minimum wage increased to $14.25 on Sunday, but local officials and business owners remain deeply divided on the impact of the city’s minimum wage.
Some business owners claim the increases have had significant negative impacts on employment opportunities for people at the lower end of the pay scale.
According to Pasadena Chamber of Commerce CEO Paul Little, fewer business owners are hiring teenagers during the summer due to the wage increase. Increasing the minimum wage was opposed by members of the chamber, who favored smaller pay hikes. Under that proposal, minimum wage would have increased to $12.50 by 2020, and then stopped there.
“Those who hire minimum-wage workers have cut back on hiring, reduced their workforce and demanded a higher level of skill and experience from people who are hired,” Little told the Pasadena Weekly. “We are also likely to see more places close as profitability becomes more and more difficult.”
But Jon Pollard, Pasadena’s code compliance manager, who visits hundreds of Pasadena businesses every year, said so far he has not seen much negative impact.
“I don’t think the city would say there have been any negative impacts based on the minimum wage increase,” Pollard said. “This is just me speaking, but I think it would be very hard to parse the reason for a business closing. Restaurants have a famously high closure rate in the first year.”
In February, the Pasadena City Council reviewed the impacts of the minimum wage increases on reducing poverty, unemployment, job creation, and the overall business climate and voted to increase it to $14.25 this year and $15 in 2020.
Beginning July 1, 2022 the local hourly wage will be adjusted annually by an amount equal to the expected increase in the Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers.
But even at $15 an hour, it’s almost impossible for single minimum wage earners to live in Pasadena.
The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Pasadena has risen more than 51.7 percent in the past six years, with rents on some one-bedroom apartments totaling well over $2,000 a month.