[Aug. 4, 2015] SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California Attorney General Kamala Harris cleared the way for signature gathering to begin for a ballot measure next year that would gradually raise California’s minimum wage $1 each year until it reaches $15 an hour in 2021.
The measure would appear on the November 2016 ballot and would raise wages for 3.2 million Californians, many of whom are parents or seniors working full time but struggling to put food on the table.
“Raising the minimum wage would change my life, that’s for sure,” said Kazoua Yang, a grocery store cashier in Fresno who works 30 to 35 hours a week and earns $9.20 an hour. “It’s a struggle providing for me and my family when rent, groceries and gas just keep going up and up and up. This raise would make it a lot easier and a lot less stressful to live.”
The Fair Wage Act of 2016 would raise the minimum wage for California workers in all industries by $1 a year beginning in January 2017. Once the minimum wage reaches $15, it will automatically go up each year to match inflation.
The attorney general approved the ballot measure’s official title and summary, which allows signature collection to begin. The California Secretary of State reports that 366,000 valid signatures from California voters are needed to qualify the initiative for the ballot. Signatures must be collected and submitted within 180 days, or no later than Jan. 27, 2016.
Here are some facts about the minimum wage in California, which is currently $9 an hour and is set to rise to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016:
- A full-time worker making the minimum wage in California earns less than $19,000 a year;
- 3.2 million Californians earn less than $15 an hour;
- 1.8 million people in California earn the minimum wage, including 200,000 who are older than 55;
- More than half of minimum wage workers in California are women;
- 95 percent of minimum wage workers in California are at least 20-years-old; and
- More than two million children live in poverty in California.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the largest number of minimum wage earners in California is employed as cashiers, food preparation workers, farmworkers, waiters and waitresses, and retail salespeople.