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California Is About to Raise the Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Monday that California has reached a "landmark deal" to increase the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022, after lawmakers made a tentative agreement over the weekend. If approved by the state assembly, the deal will make California the first state in the nation to adopt a $15 minimum wage for all workers.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Monday that California has reached a “landmark deal” to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022, after lawmakers made a tentative agreement over the weekend. If approved by the state assembly, the deal will make California the first state in the nation to adopt a $15 minimum wage for all workers.

california state capitol 

(Photo Credit: brainchildvn/Flickr)

Cities like Seattle and Los Angeles have already started phasing in minimum wages of $15 an hour, and other cities, counties, and states have passed laws raising pay for at least some workers, e.g. Massachusetts’ statewide wage hike for home healthcare workers.

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Like previous minimum wage laws, California’s would increase pay over time, raising it from $10 an hour, the current minimum, to $10.50 an hour by 2017 and $15 an hour by 2022.

Why Now?

In a word: politics.

“[The deal] was reached after lawmakers were threatened with two union-sponsored initiatives that would have raised the minimum to $15 on faster timelines — one of which recently qualified for the Nov. 8 statewide ballot,” write Ruben Vives, Frank Shyong, and Victoria Kim at The Los Angeles Times. “Numerous statewide polls showed voters would approve such a hike, and Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have both endorsed a union-led nationwide push for a $15 minimum wage.”

Steve Trossman, a spokesman for the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, told The New York Times that his organization would “take a careful look” at the law, if passed, and decide what to do about their ballot initiative.

Possible Effects on the Economy

Although Gov. Brown supported an earlier hike to $10 an hour, he hadn’t endorsed further increases, citing concern that higher wages would impact business.

“It’s hard to say what the consequences of that would be,” writes Jordan Weissmann at Slate. “While I doubt that California’s economy is going to suddenly crumble as the ghost of Ronald Reagan shakes his head in disbelief, I don’t think we should count out the possibility of unintended consequences either. The bulk of the research literature shows that, typically, minimum wage increases haven’t been much of a job killer. But as I’ve pointed out a number of times, the prior research tends to look at smaller hikes that don’t tell us much about what a law like the one California is contemplating would do.”

Tell Us What You Think

Are you in favor of a higher minimum wage? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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donaldyates
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