Increase in Californian minimum wage: Legislation raising minimum wage set to become law

By Kevin Searle


California’s minimum wage is now the highest of any state in the country. On Sept. 25, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will raise the minimum wage from its current rate $8 an hour to $10 an hour by Jan. 1, 2016. There will be an intermediate wage increase to $9 an hour on July 1 next year.

This represents a 25 percent increase in California’s minimum wage and will be $2.75 an hour more than the current federal minimum wage. Washington has the next highest minimum wage at $9.19 an hour. However, Washington has automatic increases due to inflation, a provision the California law does not make.

In the last few months, there have been protests by workers nationwide, particularly focused against Walmart, who feel the minimum wage should be increased. President Obama has set a goal of increasing the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour with automatic increases to account for inflation. Those in favor of minimum wage increases feel that it will allow those who rely on minimum wage salaries to better support themselves. Assemblyman Luis Alejo, a Salinas Democrat carrying the bill argues that the extra money will be used by those people, which will in turn stimulate the economy. According to the San Diego Union Tribune, those who oppose the wage increase, including Phil Blair, chief executive officer of Manpower San Diego argue that “an increased minimum wage would hurt job growth because employers would think twice before hiring.”

Brown called the minimum wage increase “a matter of justice,” and said that he hoped other states would follow California’s example. Currently, 19 states have minimum wages above the federal minimum, 22 meet the federal minimum, four have rates below the federal minimum and five have no minimum wage laws in place.

California’s minimum wage has historically been significantly higher than the federal minimum wage. When adjusting for inflation, The minimum wage in California generally fell between $9 an hour and $12 an hour in past decades.

Some USD students feel that the rise in the minimum wage is too large and could harm small businesses.

“Workers with no experience in an entry-level job should not be making $10 an hour. I’ve worked for small businesses, and they won’t be able to hire workers for their front counter because of the higher minimum wage,” sophomore Eric Lee said.

Other students feel that the move is a positive one. “It’s a positive move by the California state legislature. And about time the minimum wage increased. Eight dollars an hour isn’t enough to sustain a decent lifestyle,” says Brandon Herbeck, a USD student who works at Aromas and is paid minimum wage.

California’s minimum wage may be the highest in the nation, but the state also has one of the highest costs of living in the nation. While it is true that most minimum wage jobs are entry-level, there is often a misconception that most minimum wage jobs go to teenagers. On the contrary, 90 percent of minimum wage jobs nationwide are held by workers over the age of 20. DSC_0104