California’s minimum wage will jump to $15.50 per hour next year, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration announced Thursday, an increase triggered by soaring inflation that will benefit about 3 million workers.
The increase is required by a state law passed in 2016. But it comes at a good time for Democrats in the nation’s most populous state as they rush to find ways to boost taxpayers’ bank accounts in an election year marked by rising prices that have diluted the purchasing power of consumers.
Thursday, in a preview of his upcoming budget proposal, Newsom doubled down on his plan to send up to $800 checks to car owners to offset this year’s record-high gas prices despite opposition from Democrats in the Legislature. And he revealed a new proposal to send at least $1,000 checks to 600,000 hospital and nursing home workers in recognition of their dangerous work throughout the pandemic.
It’s part of a new spending proposal to put $18.1 billion into taxpayers’ pockets through a combination of rebates and assistance with rent, health insurance premiums and utility bills.
“We’re still overall having a very strong economic recovery in the state from the COVID-19 recession,” California Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said. “But it’s clear that we face a lot of headwinds: gas prices remain high, food prices are high because of inflation.”
California lawmakers voted to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour in 2016, but the increase was phased in over several years. Today, the minimum wage is $15 per hour for companies with 25 or more workers and $14 per hour for companies with 25 or fewer employees.
The law says the minimum wage must increase to $15.50 per hour for everyone if inflation increased by more than 7% between the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years. Thursday, the California Department of Finance said they project inflation for the 2022 fiscal year — which ends June 30 — will be 7.6% higher than the year before, triggering the increase.
Official inflation figures won’t be final until this summer. But the Newsom administration believes the growth will be more than enough to trigger the automatic increase.
California has about 3 million minimum wage workers, according to a conservative estimate from the state Department of Finance. The increase in the minimum wage will be about $3 billion, or less than 0.1% of the $3.3 trillion in personal income Californians are projected to earn.
California Department of Finance Director Keely Martin Bosler said the increase could cause prices to jump for restaurants, which have low profit margins. But overall, she said the minimum wage increase is “expected to have a very minimal impact on overall inflation in the state’s economy.”
The increase will impact smaller companies the most, which will see the minimum wage jump $1.50 in January. Kerry Jackson, a fellow at the conservative-leaning Pacific Research Institute’s Center for California Reform, said the increase could cause some employees at smaller companies to work fewer hours.
“It may be very painful for them,” he said.
Inflation has been a problem everywhere, as …read more
Source:: Headlines News4jax
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