Los Angeles became the third city to implement a $15 minimum wage, following Seattle and San Francisco. With all three cities, the rise is phased in. Far smarter people than I have addressed this phase in and potential reasons for it, but I’d like to address this while channeling Bastiat.
The phase-in helps hide the effects of minimum wage. By relying on arbitration (not replacing a worker who has left, or replacing him with automation), firms can adjust their employment to the new wages. If, indeed, the wage were hiked immediately to $15/hr, disemployment effects would be obvious. With the phase-in, they become hidden. This is a big reason why so many minimum wage studies find only small/no effect on employment stemming from the price increase.
But the poor economist looks only at the seen. Bastiat teaches us to look beyond what is obvious. What is not seen by many proponents of minimum wage is the potential number of jobs that are now lost. Sure, jobs may have increased by 400, but absent the minimum wage increase, they’d have increased by 800. That is a loss of 400 unseen jobs. The poor economist misses this.