California legislators voted to approve what is for now the highest statewide minimum wage in the nation when it finally reaches $15 an hour in 2022.
The plan calls for the minimum wage to increase to $10.50 in 2018, then $11 in 2018 before going up $1 a year until 2022.
Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill on Monday.
For Brooks Ware, the day-to-day struggle is a recent memory.
“I remember when I worked for a minimum wage job it was hard out there, which is why I came into barbering,” he said.
A single father to his 6-year-old son, Alexander, Ware says providing a life on minimum wage on California was beyond tough. While he was fortunate to find a way out of the dark days through barbering, he’s happy to know others may now have a chance at life too.
“I think it’s a good thing for a lot of people, help them keep up gas prices, rent small families,” he said.
Over at Rick’s Dessert Diner in Sacramento, the news that California could soon have one of the highest minimum wages in the nation was promising for Chajay Chatman. She enjoys her job, but doesn’t like to stress over each paycheck.
“To be able to work, where I’m at right now and not have worry about how to be a full time mom, full-time student and full-time student,” she said.
But the news isn’t all positive around Thursday’s vote, as businessowners say the wage increase phased in over six years will kill business.
“This wage is not sustainable for a lot of companies, I mean you’re talking about jumping from $10 to $15, in that $5 increase you’re talking about $12,000 increase per employee, so if you have 10 employees, you’re talking about $120,000—where does that money come from,” said Peter Tateishi with Sac Metro Chamber.
He says as a result, some small businesses and nonprofits may be forced to close their doors, or lay off workers or reduce hours.
Some workers like Sydney Herrington are simply concerned about the effect it may have on consumer goods.
“When minimum wage goes up everything goes up, eggs, milk, fast food that you’re eating, that you’re working out, that hour that you worked will be paying for that meal,” she said.