California Increases Minimum Wage to $13 an Hour

San Diego County increased the minimum wage to $13 an hour on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020 in concurrence with the state-wide raise. Starting in 2017, California has been increasing the minimum wage with the end goal of $15 being reached by 2023.

California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who has been an advocate for worker protections, spoke to the San Diego Union-Tribune regarding why there was the initial need for a higher minimum wage. 

“Right now, businesses are reporting high economic growth and those at the top are wealthier than they’ve ever been,” Gonzalez said. “The wealth gap is growing. We have to look at how we are compensating people and to ensure that people can make a living. Minimum wage just doesn’t do that.”

According to Assemblywoman Gonzalez, an increase in minimum wage will allow families who are earning that amount to be able to live more comfortably. But with a growing economy, she’s expecting more of an increase when it comes to minimum wage in the future.

Gonzalez’s bases this on a UC Berkeley study which shows that 2.6 million Californians will need a higher minimum wage in the future.

Several employers have already set their hourly wages above the minimum, with companies like Costco and Amazon setting theirs to $15 an hour, $2 above the state required minimum.

For UC San Diego, this means that the wages for Housing Dining Hospitality employees have increased as well. HDH promises to match the minimum wage of San Diego County, and because of the increase to the minimum wage, students and other staff will get their wages increased from $12 to $13 an hour. 

Other jobs around campus will also raise their wages in regards to the minimum wage increase if the previous wage was $12 in 2019.

The $15 wage is planned to be California’s target minimum wage by 2023 for businesses which have less than 25 employees, and 2022 for businesses that employ 26 or more employees. The topic of raising the minimum wage has been a popular topic of discussion between democratic candidates for the upcoming 2020 presidential election. 

Democratic Presidential Candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden stated on Twitter that Americans should be promised a $15 minimum wage at the very least.

“Companies continue to squeeze every last penny out of workers, making it harder and harder for Americans to make ends meet.” Biden stated. “It’s way past time we make a $15 minimum wage the law of the land.”

Other candidates stand with Biden’s case that pushes towards a $15 minimum for all workers in the U.S.

Twenty states have already followed suit and are increasing their minimum wage in 2020. According to KTLA, states such as Alaska, California, Illinois, and other states are raising their minimum wage and expected to see more productivity from that.

This is important for families who are working for minimum wage: having more money in their income. But some argue that there would be a possibility that there will be jobs lost from the minimum wage increase. A study done by the Congressional Budget Office says that 1.3 million workers may lose their jobs if the minimum wage is increased.  

The federal minimum wage has yet to be changed from the current $7.25 an hour, but several states will continue to make reforms towards higher wages in the coming years.