Is it time to raise the CA minimum wage to $18? Expert says, yes

Wages
FILE PHOTO. Photo credit Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (KNX) California voters will soon get to weigh in on a raise to the state’s minimum wage. The proposal? An additional $5 an hour to bring the overall minimum wage to $18 per hour for businesses with more than 26 employees by 2023.

Tia Koonse, a legal and police research manager at the UCLA Labor Center, pointed to dramatic increases throughout the pandemic and in the last few years — where the county has seen a 25% increase in rental costs and new research shows a family of four would need to earn $995,000 a year to “make ends meet.”

“In L.A. County workers who earn minimum wage right now who are full time bring in less than $30,000 a year so I would say yeah, that the numbers show a minimum wage is desperately needed,” Koonse said.

While initially the "minimum" part of minimum wage indicated that as Californians entered the job market they would earn skills, learn and move up in the job market - Koonse said that's not actually how things turned out.

"Unfortunately we do not see that to be true," she said. "So a minimum wage increase would affect not just affect young workers...but also would have a huge impact on people who are raising kids, people who are middle-aged, people who are older than 25."

While Koonse agrees that even the proposed increase to $18 still wouldn't be enough it's at least "a start" toward recovering some ground lost by inflation.

So far there are already increases in play in the state. Beginning in 2022 all California employers with more than 26 employees will be required to pay $15 per hour. Smaller businesses will have one extra year to do so.

In Los Angeles all employers will be required to pay $15 per hour.

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