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California's Minimum Wage Will Increase January 1

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio
 

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

This is part of our series on new California laws taking effect in 2019.

Companies with 26 people or workers will see California's minimum wage increase by a dollar, to $12 an hour, on January 1 of the new year.

Brenna Quinn is one of 40 employees at Evangeline's Costume Mansion in Old Sacramento, and she’s looking forward to a raise. "Any pay increase is a pretty big deal when you're making low wages," she said.

She plans to eat out a little more — which would be fine with Greg Taylor. He's the owner of Willie’s, a burgers and brews place down the street.

Taylor says he prefers to pay his employees more than minimum wage in order to decrease the likelihood they leave for another job.

"When the employees are happy, the customers are happy, not necessarily just to eat, but to chat with the people who work here,” he said.

The wage for businesses with 25 or fewer employees is $10.50, which will increase to $11.

UCLA Professor Edward Leamer is studying minimum wage hikes, specifically Pasadena's increases over the last two years to $13.25. He says the impacts depend on a variety of factors, including how employees spend their money.

"In Los Angeles, 40 percent of the work force or more are directly affected by a minimum wage that goes to $15,” he said.

Large employers will be forced to pay $15 an hour in 2022. Smaller employers will pay that in 2023.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that small employers can choose whether or not to delay a minimum wage increase by a year. In fact, the minimum wage for all businesses with 25 or fewer employees rises from $10.50 to $11 an hour on Jan. 1.

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