Raising the Minimum Wage for Working Men and Women in California and the Rest of America

Raise the Wage: Why California Should Lead the Nation (Again)

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A report out Tuesday from the Congressional Budget Office is likely to put the brakes on a push at the federal level to increase the minimum wage. The report concluded that the hike would increase income for 16.5 million people, but that 500,000 (3 percent of those helped by the hike) would lose their job. Nine hundred thousand people would be lifted out of poverty by the increase.

What does that mean for California, where the state minimum wage is already expected to increase to $9.00 an hour come July, and to $10.00 an hour in 2016?

It means that California should lead, rather than follow. The dire job loss predictions contained in the CBO report has put Democrats in Congress onto their heels. While it doesn’t take a math wizard to discover that the federal increase would still help a number of people exponentially larger than those that would lose their jobs, it also doesn’t take a political science expert to know that voting for job loss of any kind in a midterm election is more foreign to politicians than answering questions in plain English.

To be fair, the job loss findings are under heavy scrutiny, and as will be discussed, for good reason. But when was the last time a politician convinced the American people that a law wouldn’t kill jobs by waving around an economics textbook?

To return to the states, policies on the minimum wage vary—nearly half of the labor force lives in a state where the minimum wage is equivalent to the federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour. The remaining half of the labor force is divided about evenly between those who live in states with a minimum wage above $8.01 an hour, and those who live in a state where it is in between.

A new measure pushed by Ron Unz, a Silicon Valley software developer, would raise the California state minimum wage to $10.00 an hour in 2015, with another two dollar increase coming the following year. According to Unz, the measure is especially important given California’s high cost of living. The measure comes as the Los Angeles City Council recently moved to study the implication of imposing a living wage of $15.37 an hour for workers in hotels with over 100 rooms.

• Category: California, Campaign • Tags: Nathaniel Haas