California’s minimum wage for all workers will increase to $15.50 an hour in January, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Thursday.
In a statement, Newsom’s office said the increase comes as a result of an inflation having exceeding seven percent. The wage increase, part of the governor’s proposed $18.1 Billion “Inflation Relief Package,” arrives one day before he is scheduled to unveil a revised state budget plan.
Former Gov. Jerry Brown in 2016 signed the law to trigger a series of minimum wage increases peaking at $15 an hour this year. The increase that Newsom announced marks the first time minimum wage has gone up due to rising inflation, the Sacramento Bee reports.
“The wage increase will benefit millions of California households that are struggling to keep pace with the highest rate of inflation in decades,” according to the statement from Newsom’s office. “For years, the state minimum wage has increased steadily while inflation numbers remained modest.”
Keely Martin Bosler, the governor’s budget director, told the Los Angeles Times that the pay boost will help low-income families struggling with the rapid rise in prices for a variety of items.
“They have a huge impact to those families that are living off of those lower wages and their ability to cover the cost of goods,” she said.
Bolser added that all employers, regardless of size, will be required to raise their salaries based on the state’s projection that the consumer price index will have risen by 7.6 percent over a two-year period that ends in July.
“If high inflation sustains” beyond this summer, Bosley told the Times, “it’s possible that there will be another jump by another 50 cents in the future years.”
Currently, California has two minimum wages: $15 an hour for employers with 26 or more workers and $14 an hour for employers with 25 or fewer. The minimum wage was slated to boost to $15 an hour for all employers in January 2023, but now will increase to $15.50 for all employers.
The Golden State’s minimum wage is more than double the federal minimum wage, which has remained $7.25 an hour since 2009, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Living Wage Act of 2022, a campaign that aims to raise the minimum wage to $18 an hour, announced Thursday that it has collected more than one million signatures from people across the state to place the question on the November ballot. If approved by voters, California would continue raising the minimum wage each year until it reached $18 for all employees by 2026.
“Tacking 50 cents onto the current minimum wage doesn’t come close to making ends meet for working families,” Joe Sanberg, the Los Angeles investor who is the proponent of the new ballot measure, told the Times. “We need a living wage of $18 per hour to keep pace with inflation so that working people and their families can afford food and a place to live without having to take on second and third jobs.”
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