Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Wednesday a new minimum wage of $10 an hour, to be implemented gradually, which puts California on track to have the highest minimum wage in the country.
The bill, AB 10, will raise the state’s minimum wage from the current level of $8 an hour to $9 an hour by July 1, 2014. The next increase will be implemented Jan. 1, 2016, bumping up the minimum wage to $10.
Brown signed the bill at a ceremony in Los Angeles, where he was accompanied by members of the California State Assembly and dozens of workers.
“It’s my goal and it’s my moral responsibility to do what I can to make our society more harmonious, to make our social fabric tighter and closer and to work toward a solidarity that every day appears to become more distant,” Brown said in a press release.
The Public Policy Institute of California reports that more than 6 million California residents were living under the federal poverty line in 2011. At the same time, the cost of living in many cities in California is well above the national average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Because of the state’s high cost of living, Berkeley City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin strongly supported the bill.
“This bill provides a long overdue increase to help working families and working people in the state,” he said. “I think it’s a huge step forward.”
The city of Berkeley does not have a minimum wage. Since May, however, Berkeley City Council has been considering a proposal to implement a citywide minimum wage of $10.55 an hour.
After the state bill’s approval, Arreguin met with a representative of Berkeley’s Commission on Labor to discuss the relationship between AB 10 and the city proposal.
A 2013 report by the city’s economic development manager, Michael Caplan, suggests that many people may not be able to afford living in Berkeley. According to the study, only 17.1 percent of those who work in Berkeley are city residents.
“Whatever minimum wage we adopt should exceed the state minimum wage,” he said. “It is much more expensive to live in Berkeley than in other areas of the state.”