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Chris Tilly on the Impact of Rising Minimum Wages

UCLA Luskin Urban Planning Professor Chris Tilly spoke to the New York Times for a story about West Hollywood’s minimum wage — at $19.08 an hour, the highest in the country. Many West Hollywood businesses complain that high labor costs put them at a disadvantage compared to competitors in neighboring communities. Recently, workers in several California industries have seen significant pay raises, including fast-food workers, who will soon make a minimum wage of $20 an hour. Tilly, who studies labor markets and public policies that shape the workplace, said research shows that gradual and moderate increases to the minimum wage have no significant impact on employment levels. “The claim that minimum wage increases are job-killers is overblown,” Tilly said. But he added that there are possible downsides to dramatic changes in pay scales. “Economic theory tells us an overly large increase in the minimum is bound to deter businesses from hiring,” he said.


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