Californians Voting for Minimum Wage Increases

On Election Day, voters in four different states passed minimum wage increases. This builds on the momentum already created by more than a dozen other states that have done the same throughout the past two years. According to opinion polls, a significant number of Americans are in support of increasing the federal minimum wage – currently set at $7.25.

Here in California, three cities voted on minimum wage hikes: Oakland, San Francisco and Eureka. San Francisco and Oakland will see approximately 190,000 workers receive pay increases as a result of the minimum wage hike. Eureka workers, on the other hand, shouldn’t expect the same. Eureka rejected the measure. Over the past two years, 10 other cities and counties have done the same throughout California.

San Francisco currently has a minimum wage of $10.74. Voters passed an incremental wage increase that will reach $15 per hour by 2018. (76% voted yes and 24% voted no). An estimated 142,000 San Francisco workers should see a raise. Incremental wage increases will occur according to the following timeline: Increased to $12.25 in May 2015. Increased to $13.00 in July 2016. Increased to $14.00 in July 2017. Increased to $15.00 in July 2018.  Seattle passed a similar incremental wage increase in June, making them the two municipalities with the highest minimum wage.

Oakland currently has a minimum wage of $9.00 and voted for a wage increase that will reach $12 by 2015. (79% voted yes and 21% voted no). Approximately 40,000-48,000 workers should receive a raise as a result of the vote. The wage increase will occur in March of 2015 and will jump minimum wage from the current $9.00 to $12.25.

Eureka, California has a population of 27,000. It is reportedly the only place in the country that rejected a proposed minimum wage hike at the polls on Tuesday.

It is suspected that the changing landscape that leaves us seeing so much local support for wage increases is a result of the increasingly loud and powerful movement of low-wage workers who are calling attention to the struggles created by their low paying jobs. The last couple years have seen a number of fast food and retail workers step into the spotlight to go on strike to demand wage increases to $15/hour. These individuals and their stories are the likely reason behind much of the impetus felt for wage increases at a state and local level. A full-time worker that earns the federal minimum wage will earn a little over $15,000 per year. This is below the poverty line for any family of two or more.

If you would like to discuss federal, state and local regulations regarding minimum wage requirements, contact the experts at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.