California became the next state to increase its minimum wage this week after the California State Senate passed a bill increasing the minimum wage from $9.00 to $13.00 over the next two years. January 1st, 2016 the wage will jump to $11.00 and January 1, 2017 it will increase to $13.00. The bill also adds a regular cost of living increase which will begin in 2019.
There are currently 8 million Californians who are earning minimum wage. This increase will pull them from living below the poverty line. This is a huge step forward for California, which holds the highest rate of poverty in the entire nation.
The sudden increase in income is also expected to boost California economy shortly after going into effect – as families will be spending that money in local businesses.
The bill, by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, passed the state Senate in a 23-15 vote and now heads to the state Assembly for consideration.
Even with this significant increase, the new minimum wage is still less than a number of California cities where city councils have already made their own local minimum wage increases. San Francisco recently approved a phased-in minimum wage increase that tops out at $15 in 2018. And in Los Angeles the City Council is scheduled to increase the city's minimum wage to $10.50 on July 1, 2016, gradually increasing it to $15 in 2020.
Ballot measures have also recently passed in other states as well; Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota have all increased their minimum wage in recent months.
All Californians will see positive effects of this increase, no matter what their hourly wage currently is. Since California taxpayers are the ones who foot the bill for companies who do not pay their employees enough to keep them government assistance, everyone will feel the boost. By lifting millions of Californians out of the poverty, they will also be lifted out of government assistance programs.
Let’s hope the federal minimum wage can catch up soon.