California’s Statewide Minimum Wage Is Now $16 an Hour

Wages just went up for thousands of Californians.

As of yesterday, the state’s overall minimum wage is now $16 an hour, up from $15.50. That is the second-highest statewide minimum in the nation, trailing only Washington at $16.28 (the District of Columbia’s is higher still, at $17 an hour).

The latest increase in California is an inflation adjustment, and it builds off a 2016 state law that incrementally raised the minimum wage to $15 from $10.

The 50-cent bump affects approximately one million workers, or about 6 percent of the state’s work force, according to Michael Reich, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley. The impact is relatively limited, he told me, because falling unemployment over the past year has already led to significant wage growth in low-paying jobs, reducing the number of people making the statewide minimum wage.

Another factor: Roughly a third of California’s workers live in cities and counties with wage ordinances that set higher minimums than the state’s, including Los Angeles ($16.78 an hour), San Jose ($17.55) and Oakland ($16.50).

Indeed, 40 California cities and counties require employers to pay wages above the $16 an hour required by the state. Twenty-eight of those municipalities raised their minimums on Jan. 1.

West Hollywood currently has the nation’s highest minimum wage, at $19.08 an hour. (My colleague Kurtis Lee recently wrote about how this has caused some angst for local businesses.) Mountain View, Emeryville, Sunnyvale, Berkeley and San Francisco all require between $18 and $19 an hour, rounding out the top six in California.

Even so, these rates fall short of providing a living wage, experts say. In Los Angeles County, for example, two working adults with one child would each have to make $23.98 an hour to afford their basic needs, according to M.I.T.’s Living Wage Calculator.

“Our minimum-wage laws are still lower than what workers need to really get by,” Ken Jacobs, co-chair of the U.C. Berkeley Labor Center, told me. “These higher minimum wages have made a real difference in workers’ lives, but I think one of the reasons you’re now seeing a push for taking those wage levels higher is to address the increased cost of living in California.”

To tackle that problem, Gov. Gavin Newsom approved laws in the fall that require major pay bumps, above the statewide minimum, in two industries that employ large chunks of the state’s work force. One will raise the minimum wage for all health care workers in California to $25 an hour by 2028; the other increases minimum hourly pay for fast-food workers to $20 an hour.

Why one writer is still in love with Waikiki.

What are you looking forward to in 2024? Milestone birthdays, travel to new places, picking up a new hobby?

Tell us your hopes for the new year at Please include your full name and the city in which you live.

Though Sacramento has sometimes played second fiddle to the buzzy Bay Area cities of Northern California, the capital is flourishing, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The city, once the heart of gold rush migration, has been reanimated in recent years by a growing and internationally recognized music scene, Michelin-star-studded restaurants and an array of galleries, bars and late-night doughnut shops beloved by visitors and residents.

Four “in the know” Sacramento residents, including Ruthie Bolton, a former player for the Sacramento Monarchs of the W.N.B.A., spoke to the newspaper about their favorite places in the city. The result is a collage of the city’s greatest gems, including parks, cafes and a farm that doubles as a brewery.

For visitors seeking a slightly different Northern California flavor, this list is your guide.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Maia Coleman, Briana Scalia and Bernard Mokam contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at

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