California to claim nation’s second highest minimum wage

California hasn’t seen a wage increase since 2008, but after Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 10 on Sept. 25, the Golden State will claim the nation’s second highest minimum wage of $9 an hour, effective July 1, 2014.

The passage of the bill means the state will also raise minimum wage again Jan. 1, 2016, to $10, which will make the state the highest paying. Washington state, which pays $9.19 an hour will have the nation’s second highest minimum wage, while the federal minimum sits at $7.25. Currently California remains at $8 per hour.

“It costs so much to live here,” said Vaughn Aun, SF State student who works at Rack-N-Cue. “There’s no way you can live on minimum wage.”

However, the wage increase doesn’t do much for San Franciscans. Although the city boasts the highest starting wage in the nation, at $10.55 an hour, it is linked to inflation: it increases as the inflation index rises.

SF State conformed to the $10.55 an hour increase, which went into effect last January, but students who work on campus are limited to 20 hours a week, which students say is not enough.

“There are so many bills: the bus, food’s expensive — and you gotta eat,” said Carlos Robles, SF State senior who also works at the SFSU Bookstore. “Even with the raise it’s not making a difference in the end; everything’s price will still raise.”

The California Chamber of Commerce calls the bill a job killer, and adds it to their list of bills that hurt economic growth. It argues that the bill will put a burden on businesses by driving up the cost of employment, thus causing employers to decrease hours to counteract the increase in wages. It also argues that the new wages add strain to businesses already struggling with high taxes and other pro-worker legislation.

Meanwhile, those same employees living in San Francisco are paying 3.7 percent more for their housing costs than last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With the average one bedroom apartment in San Francisco going for $2,800 per month and areas surrounding campus averaging $2,000 or more, living in the city is more expensive than surrounding areas, according to sfist.com.

Within the year, the cost of food in San Francisco rose 2.4 percent, along with medical care, which rose 3.9 percent.

“When you take it all into account, minimum wage should be higher,” said Lariza Torres, SF State junior who also works at the SFSU Bookstore. “I struggle with paying rent, I have to live paycheck to paycheck and I’m always stressing out about money.”

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