CALIFORNIA (KTXL) — California’s minimum wage is set to increase at the start of next month and, despite mounting inflation, it will be the smallest increase since 2018.
The new minimum wage for businesses in the state, regardless of the number of employees, will increase from the current rate of $15 an hour to $15.50.
That 3.33% increase is less than half of the 7.9% increase in inflation California’s Department of Finance calculated occurred from July 2021 to the end of June 2022.
It will be the first time since 2018 that the minimum wage did not increase by $1 at the start of a new year.
In 2016, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that increased the minimum wage by a predetermined amount every year until it reached $15 an hour. After the $15-an-hour wage was reached, regular annual increases were set to continue on the first day of the year.
According to the law, the size of those annual minimum wage bumps is one of two options, whichever is lesser: either the percent of inflation (as calculated by the state’s Director of Finance to have occurred from July of the prior year to June of the current year) or just 3.5%. Whichever percent is smaller becomes the wage increase, rounded to the nearest 10 cents.
However, according to the California Secretary of State’s website, a measure increasing the minimum wage again by $1 every year until it reaches $18 an hour has qualified for the November 2024 ballot.
Under the current law, the quickest minimum wage in California could reach $18 an hour would be in 2028, and that would only happen if inflation reached or exceeded 3.5% for five years.