California’s Minimum Wage Set To Rise To $10 Per Hour By 2016

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californiaLast Wednesday, California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that will gradually raise his state’s minimum wage to $10 per hour; this means that by 2016 California will have the second-highest minimum wage in the nation.

According to CNN Money, California’s new pay mandate will provide for two hikes to hourly workers’ earnings between now in 2016 – the first will occur on July 1, 2014, when minimum wage in the state will jump from $8 per hour to $9 per hour. The second will occur on January 1, 2016, when minimum hourly pay will rise to ten dollars. This means that, in roughly two years, California will have the second highest minimum wage in the nation. Washington, which pegs its minimum wage to inflation, will remain the state with the highest pay rate for hourly workers.

The eventual pay raise that minimum wage workers in California will realize from this new legislation will amount to roughly $4,000 per year; this means that minimum wage employees in the state will gross slightly over $20,000 per year beginning in 2016. While workers certainly welcome the bump in pay, many labor activists point out that even with the wage increase a family of four living in California would still be subsisting below the federal 2013 poverty line. More than 90% of minimum wage workers in California are over the age of 20, which means that most hourly workers aren’t teenagers working a summer job – increasing the minimum wage will have a real impact on working adults’ livelihoods in the state.

California’s announcement that it will be raising its minimum pay guidelines comes after months of protests from fast food workers around the country, who have been agitating for a $15 minimum wage. While California’s $10 increase doesn’t quite make the mark, it is widely viewed as a step in the right direction.

What do you think of California’s boost to the minimum wage? Do you think that the federal minimum wage should rise, too?