A ballot measure next year will be asking California voters to raise the state’s minimum wage to 18 dollars an hour.
Fox 5 San Diego says the Living Wage Act of 2022, has qualified for next year’s ballot in California.
Should it pass, the measure would extend the phased increases implemented in 2017, bringing the second highest-in-the-nation statewide minimum wage up to 18 dollars an hour over the next few years.
The last bump under the phased increases to minimum wage was in 2022, with inflation becoming the driver of baseline raises this year, and as of January 1st, 2023, minimum wage became $15.50 per hour for all employers.
Under the Living Wage Act’s initial timeline for increases, the minimum wage would have increased to $16 earlier this year and $17 next January for businesses that employ more than 25 employees.
For businesses with less than 25 workers, the raise to $16 baseline would have gone into effect in January 2024.
If the measure passes in next year’s election, the $17 minimum wage would take effect immediately, before raising to $18 in 2025 the following January.
About 37 municipalities – including San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles – already have minimum wages that exceed the state’s in varying amounts.
That is estimated to account for about a third of the state’s private sector jobs, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Changing the mechanism for minimum wage increases, advocates say, would be a critical measure to help other counties and the state catch up to the rising cost of living, as inflation drives prices higher, crippling the financial resources of low-income households.
However, minimum wage increases are a point of contention for economists, with some research suggesting that higher pay baselines could contribute to job losses, as higher costs for employers hold back growth – an impact that could be acutely felt by small businesses.