California is not a broke state and boasts one of the richest economies on earth, ranking 9th in the world, so why it is that companies can’t seem give workers a wage that pays the bills? Before we delve further into the world of wages, here is a breakdown of what wages mean.
The wage that people in California need to be paid in order to survive comfortably is called a living wage. The wage that would keep residents in extreme poverty is called a poverty wage and it is not a legally allowable wage. These two amounts vary on how many people are in your family. Finally we have minimum wage, lower than living wage but above poverty wage, and that is the wage being paid to millions of Californians.
In California a person wanting to live in on their own have to work 180 hours at the current minimum wage to be able to do so. This is just to afford rent. According to a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, employees who earn minimum wage must work 2.6 full-time jobs in order to afford a two bedroom apartment in the U.S. without paying more than 30% of their income. This information is based on federal data. On average, there are only about 20- 25 hours in each pay period as most minimum wage jobs are part time. It seems California is not the only state in which minimum wage does not pay the bills.
California Law makers are trying to address this issue by raising the minimum wage to an acceptable level. In an attempt to raise California’s minimum wage to the highest minimum wage paid in the United States, Democrat State Senator Mark Leno has introduced a bill in February that raises California’s minimum wage to $11/2015, $12/2016 and $13/2017. Finally in 2018 the wage would adjust annually based on inflation. The bill comes just a few months after Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that would increase California’s minimum wage to $9 July 2014 then to $10/2016. They are aware the current minimum wage in California does not pay the common bills many Americans have.
Senator Leno’s new legislation is backed by the Western Center on Law and Poverty and the California Labor Federation. He has stated his actions are in response to President Obama’s State Of The Union Address, which urged officials to address minimum wage issues on both the state level and local level. Conservative Californian millionaire Rob Unz has begun urging his own political party to consider raising the minimum wage as well as it would save taxpayers more than a trillion dollars over the next five years.
Those in opposition to increase in minimum wage feel higher wages would increase prices and lead to inflation. While prices could raise once minimum wage is increased, supporters of the bill say there will be more dollars to spend to address an inflation because workers would have extra cash to spend.
Richmond California is poised to lead the nation with the highest minimum wage of $12.17. The increase will be gradual and will not be in full effect until the year 2017.
U.S. By Sarah Wright