From January, workers at California’s major companies will be paid a minimum wage of $15 an hour. Fast-food workers have been striving for it since 2012. But poverty watchdogs aren’t satisfied. Citing rising inflation and soaring living costs, they want more.
A campaign to get enough signatures in California to put a ballot initiative on the November ballot is being financed by activist and investor Joe Sanberg. By 2026, Sanberg, who has addressed running for president, wants the state’s minimum wage to reach $18 an hour for all businesses.
“We were a leader in advocating for a $15 minimum wage, but now we have to go even further. It’s time for $18,” Sanberg told the Los Angeles Times.
According to a report from payroll experts at Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory, 26 U.S. states and Washington will raise their minimum wages next year, but only California and parts of New York will require hourly wages of at least $15.
Since the labor market is tight, many companies, from banks to retailers to pizzerias, raise hourly wages to attract and retain employees. A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that wages and salaries increased by 4.2% for the 12 months ended in September 2021. It was the first time that restaurant and supermarket workers earned more than $15 an hour.
The benchmark has already been surpassed by other companies. Amazon pays its workforce at least $15 an hour since 2018 and started offering new hires an average of $18 an hour this September. Costco also raised its minimum wage to $17 an hour in October. As of January, full-time employees at crafting retailer Hobby Lobby will earn at least $18.50 an hour. Bank of America has promised to pay its hourly workers $25 an hour by 2025. T-Mobile pays its 75,000-person workforce at least $20 an hour.
Furthermore, the impact of the pandemic led to a greater appreciation for hourly workers and their low wages. Cashiers at grocery stores and restaurants who worked during lockdowns often received bonuses for their contributions to providing consumers with necessities.