California is on the verge of increasing the state's minimum wage to $10 per hour, despite cries from restaurants and small business owners about increasing labor cost and being forced to reduce hiring.
If the new minimum wage bill becomes law, it would raise the current $8 minimum wage to $9 an hour next July 1 and to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016, reported the Los Angeles Times
. It would be the first California minimum wage hike since 2008.
The bill would give California the country's highest state minimum wage, followed by Washington state at $9.19 per hour, Oregon at $8.95 and Vermont at $8.60. Nevada, Connecticut, the District of Columbia and Illinois all have minimum wages of $8.25, reported the Times.
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"This is an unprecedented wage hike," said Jot Condie, president of the California Restaurant Association. He told the Times that many of the state's 87,000 eateries will likely cut hiring to deal with the increase of labor.
That warning did not stop the California state Senate from voting 26-11 in favor of the legislation Thursday followed by the state assembly's 51-25 vote agreeing to Senate amendments, according to the San Jose Mercury News
. Gov. Jerry Brown had already promised to sign it into law.
"The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs," Brown said Wednesday. "This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy."
Jennifer Barrera, an advocate for the California Chamber of Commerce, told Variety
that the bill would price low skilled workers out of the market.
"We have it tagged as a job killer, given the increased costs businesses will be faced with," Barrera said before the vote.
State Sen. Marty Block argued, though, that the increase would spur the economy because low wage workers will turn around the put the money right back into the system by spending it.
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"If you give people a couple more dollars an hour … to spend in their communities, spend it they will. They’re not going to put it into a hedge fund,” Block said during legislative debate. "Nothing will make small businesses happier. This will stimulate the economy, as well as helping people’s lives."
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