As the cost of living continues to increase, California and Los Angeles County fight to adjust minimum wage to match the expenses that come with residency.
In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that will slowly increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour for large employers by 2022 and by 2023 for small businesses. Entering the fourth year since the bill’s passing, on Jan. 1 the minimum wage became $13 for large businesses and $12 for businesses with 25 or less employees. Unless a governor in the near future waives these consecutive increases, these annual hikes will keep coming until they reach $15 in 2023.
While California is increasing the state minimum, counties and cities are able to mandate their own minimum wage as long as it complies with the state minimum wage. Los Angeles County has been on their own path to increase the minimum wage. By this year, large employers with 26 or more employees are required to pay minimum wage workers $15 an hour, moving up from last year’s minimum of $14.25; on the other hand, smaller employers are required to pay $15 by 2021.
California is a huge step ahead of the federal minimum wage, which is currently at $7.25. The U.S. Department of Labor is also working towards an increase to a federal minimum wage of $11 by 2021. While the federal minimum is in place, 29 states have minimum wages higher than what’s required by federal law. This is because the cost of living differs from state to state and the federal minimum may or may not be enough for one to support themselves. The cost of living is calculated by taking sample costs of categories like housing, utilities, groceries, transportation and health care; they are then averaged and divided into how much money one needs each year. In California, the living wage has been set at $14.61 for one adult with no children.
While minimum wage continues to increase to accommodate the cost of living, California remains the state with the highest poverty rate standing at 18.1%, according to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2018.