California’s minimum wage is about to hit $10 an hour

September 12, 2013
California Gov. Jerry Brown (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
California Gov. Jerry Brown (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

California lawmakers will vote this week on a proposal to increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour, and the proposal appears to have the votes to pass easily.

In a joint statement Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D), state Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D) and Assembly Speaker John Perez (D) said they backed the wage hike, all but assuring its passage. Democrats hold super majorities in both the Senate and the state Assembly.

Business groups hate the proposal, but there’s not much they can do about it. “You’ve got the governor sending more than just smoke signals and everybody seems to be singing Kumbaya,” Senate Republican leader Bob Huff told the Sacramento Bee. “So I think it’s pretty much a done deal.”

The bill would raise the state’s current minimum wage, $8 an hour, to $9 an hour on July 1, 2014. On January 1, 2016, the minimum wage would rise another dollar, to $10 an hour.

That would make California’s the highest minimum wage in the nation. Right now, four states and the District of Columbia have higher minimum wages, according to the Department of Labor. Washington State, where an hour flipping burgers will earn at least $9.19, has the highest minimum wage in the nation.

Legislation passed in Connecticut and New York will increase the minimum wage in those states to $9 an hour in 2015, but no state has gone as far as California.

Eighteen states and D.C. have minimum wages higher than the federal $7.25 an hour rate, while 23 states peg their rates to the federal level, according to a count compiled by the National Conference of State Legislators. Employers in any state where the minimum wage is set lower than the federal level still have to pay the $7.25 an hour rate the feds require to most employees.

Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and South Carolina have never passed minimum wage laws.

Click on the Department of Labor link above for a handy interactive map of current minimum wage levels.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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Reid Wilson · September 12, 2013