In last week’s Democratic debate, Sanders denounced Clinton for her insufficient ardor in racing to $15. Clinton took umbrage, and the shouting match that ensued led CNN’s Wolf Blitzer to admonish them both: “If you’re both screaming at each other, the viewers won’t be able to hear either of you.”
With the exception of some very cynical labor unions that support a higher minimum wage because it amounts to an indirect subsidy of their members’ earnings and some politicians who know it is bad economics, the Fight for 15 movement is entirely well-intentioned. But good intentions do not automatically translate into good policy.
Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that California’s recent decision to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2022 is already having nasty consequences, accelerating the demise of the local apparel industry. “I used to pay $5 to get this sewn, and now it costs $6.50,” Felix Seo, the owner of L.A.-based Joompy told the Times, holding up a patterned dress. “But my customer doesn’t want to pay that, so I can’t sell it anymore.”
To stay in business, Joompy will probably have to start importing its clothes. “It will be impossible to make clothes in Los Angeles,” Seo said.