California hourly workers get a raise


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The minimum wage increased to $15.50 for California hourly workers due to the enactment of Senate Bill 3. Cosumnes River College students and staff shared their thoughts about the raise.

California’s hourly workers saw their minimum wage increase to $15.50 an hour at the start of this year.

Cosumnes River College students, employees and staff weighed in on the change.

Aurora Martin, 18, a biology major, recently learned about the raise and was excited to see the difference in her paycheck.

“I haven’t noticed it yet,” she said. “Hopefully, I’ll notice it soon.”

Martin works 20 hours a week as a receptionist at Cryo Me in Elk Grove and lives at home with her parents. Before experiencing a change from the pay hike, Martin said she earned enough to cover her expenses.

“I split it and am able to have a good amount of savings and little things that I want,” she said as she pointed to her Dutch Bros coffee drink.

The annual raise affects all hourly employees regardless of the number of hourly employees, according to Senate Bill 3. The statute was signed into law by former Gov. Jerry Brown in 2016 that aimed to slowly increase the minimum wage over eight years.

Assistant Economics Professor Dr. Haengku Yoon teaches minimum wage in his microeconomics class and said he doesn’t think the increase was enough to sustain the living expense of the average full-time Californian worker.

“From my gut feeling? It’s not enough,” he said. “Living costs are way more expensive than before (the) pandemic and wars and inflation and oil price hikes. The purpose is good, but I’m not sure that this is nearly enough to survive.”

The raise brings California’s minimum wage to twice that of the national average.

Adela Lalzani, 20, a pre-nursing major who works flexible hours a week as a mentor at the campus TRIO Student Support Services, shared similar sentiments with Yoon.

“A person that doesn’t work a lot of hours, I don’t think they can see that change,” she said.

Lalzani lives with her parents and didn’t think the increase would be enough to live on her own.

“With friends and bills, I don’t think so,” Lalzani said.

Yoon also said that the hike had the potential for redundancies and lay-offs as there could be more workers wanting labor, but fewer jobs due to the increase.

“That’s going to create potential unemployment,” Yoon said.

Even before the hike, many cities in California paid over the state minimum wage and will continue to do so. Mountain View has the highest minimum wage at $18.15 an hour, according to an inventory published on Jan. 9 by the UC Berkeley Labor Center.

Jakob Berner, 25, works 20 hours a week as a part-time sales associate at Hawks Nest Bookstore on campus and also lives at home with his parents.

He said he felt that the increase is enough to help with his primary financial burden, which is paying off his student debt.

“I do wish it would go up more,” Berner said. “But doesn’t everyone want to be paid more?”