After a bill to raise California’s minimum wage to $9 per hour as of July 2014 and then $10 by January 2016 was approved by both houses of the California state legislature on Thursday, it now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) desk for signature. Brown voiced his support earlier in the week in a press release, saying, “This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy.”
Other places have recently raised their minimum wages. Voters in Albuquerque, NM raised the wage from $7.50 to $8.50 an hour on election night last year, which will automatically keep pace with the cost of living. Two other cities in California also raised the wage, with Long Beach increasing it to $13 an hour as well as guaranteeing hotel workers five paid sick days a year. When voters are asked to vote on whether to raise the minimum wage, they almost always approve it with substantial majorities, as was the case in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and Ohio in past years. Eighty percent of Americans support a national raise to $10.10 an hour, including two-thirds of Republicans.
While the national minimum wage stands at $7.25, which hasn’t been raised since 2009, lawmakers have proposed raising it to $10.10. If it had kept up with inflation since the 1960s, it would be $10.40 today. President Obama has proposed a raise to $9 an hour. But while House Republicans unanimously voted down a raise, 65 Republicans serving in the House or Senate supported an increase when President George W. Bush signed it into law.
Increasing the wage to $10.10 an hour would lift nearly 6 million workers out of poverty, a majority of whom would be women and people of color. It would also help boost the economy and wouldn’t lead to job loss and could actually help businesses.