A political deal that would increase the minimum wage in California to $15 per hour, which would lead the country, could help workers cope with the extremely high cost of living in the state but also might deprive other earners of low wages their jobs, said economists as Governor Jerry Brown and other political leaders touted the possible landmark deal.
The economy in California is larger than many countries, with a wide array of earners. While new millionaires across neighborhoods in San Francisco change that landscape, some field hands in the Central Valley lack clean water access.
A move from the current rate of $10 per hour spread out over a period of six years would affect millions.
One farm worker said that an increase would give him the opportunity to treat the family to dinners out on weekends and a short Disneyland vacation.
He earns $11 per hour picking peaches, while his girlfriend earned $14 per hour working for Target. However, he said between the two, they were barely making ends meet.
Owners such as one farmer, provides work for 2,500 workers annually. He predicted that many farmers would hire as many as 10% fewer workers due to the higher payroll cost.
He said it would be devastating to field workers and relatives that are dependent on them.
On Monday, Governor Brown pushed the deal that his administration had reached with legislative as well as labor leaders as possibly historic, calling it economic justice.
Under this proposal, which has not yet been approved by the Legislature, the state’s minimum wages would gradually rise to reach $15 in 2022.
After that, the wages would increase with inflation, though in economic times that are tough, the governor could postpone increases.
The bill could reach Brown’s desk for his signature as soon as Thursday, said one legislator.
The increase would create the highest minimum wage statewide in the nation. The two highest now are Massachusetts and California at $10, with Washington D.C. at $10.50.
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