California's Minimum Wage Poised for Big Increase

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UPDATE: The Assembly passed the minimum wage bill Thursday night, sending it to Governor Brown's desk.

State lawmakers are on the verge of passing a law that could make California's minimum wage law the highest in the country.

Fast food workers will benefit from a new bill increasing California's minimum wage, but business groups say the hike will slow the economy down
Fast-food workers will benefit from a new bill increasing California's minimum wage, but business groups say the hike will slow down the economy.

The Senate passed a bill increasing the minimum wage to $10 this afternoon, and the Assembly is expected to follow suit tonight. The measure is just one of hundreds of bills being sent to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk on the final day of California’s 2013 legislative session.

At $8 an hour, California’s minimum wage is already the eighth-highest rate in the country. AB10 bumps it to $9 next July and then to $10 in 2016.

Brown rarely wades into legislative debates, but on Wednesday his office sent out a press release endorsing the bill. “The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs,” Brown said in a statement.“This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy.”


With Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez backing the measure, too, it is all but assured of passage in the Democrat-dominated Legislature.

Business groups are conceding defeat but warning the legislation will backfire.  Ken DeVore, legislative director of the National Federation of Independent Business’ California branch, said “the costs have to come from somewhere.”

“Yeah, some of the employees are going to end up with more money in their pocket,” he said. “But I believe there will be fewer of those employees now. Or people working fewer hours.” He predicted costs will increase, too.

How will California’s new minimum wage compare with other states? Check out this map documenting each state's current minimum wage law. The darker states have wages higher than California’s current $8 level.

For mapping purposes, states with no minimum wage law are marked as $0, but of course the federal rate of $7.25 applies in those locations. Several states automatically increase their minimum wage based on the Consumer Price Index or other factors. The information comes from the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Lisa Pickoff-White contributed to this report