Minimum wage workers to receive 50-cent raise | SierraSun.com

Minimum wage workers to receive 50-cent raise

Andrew Cristancho
Sierra Sun

The new year will bring low-wage workers a small economic boost.

Minimum wage workers throughout California will see a 50-cent increase per hour starting today.

The second part of a legislative adjustment passed by state lawmakers in 2006, the law will increase the minimum wage for many of the state’s lowest-paid workers.

A spokesperson for the Department of Industrial Relations, Kate McGuire, said job sectors most affected by the jump will be child-care and home-health-care workers, sales clerks, restaurant employees, farm workers and janitors.

Altogether, an estimated 1.4 million Californians are paid minimum wage.

Although many consider restaurant workers among the lowest paid, Plumpjack Cafe General Manager Mike Murphy, who employees 120 workers during the high season, said he typically pays higher than minimum wage to minimize turnover. He said the exception are servers who make tips. He said the restaurant’s prices would not go up because of the wage increase.

“If we feel that we are offering a new amenity, then we will raise our prices,” Murphy said. “We raised our hotel room rate this year, because we added a new fitness facility.”

The law will boost Californian workers to the second highest paid minimum wage employees in the country along with employees in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts minimum wage also will reach $8 an hour on Jan. 1, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Although the wage is higher than most states, it is not enough, according to a study by the California Budget Project, a fiscal and policy analysis group that focuses on issues affecting low- and middle-income Californians. The 2007 study, “Making Ends Meet: How Much Does it Cost to Raise a Family in California?”, reports a single adult in California needs to earn an hourly wage of $13.62 to earn a “modest living.”

Washington state, which automatically adjusts its minimum wage each year to keep pace with inflation, will have the highest at $8.07 an hour.

The first part of the legislative push to boost worker wages went into effect Jan. 1, 2007, and jumped from $6.75 to $7.50.