California lawmakers voted on Thursday to gradually raise the statewide minimum wage to $15 by 2022. Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to approve the pay hike.

The agreement, intended to avoid a similar voter initiative that recently qualified for the November 2016 ballot, would raise the state’s current $10 minimum wage by 50-cents in 2017 and 2018, and then $1 a year thereafter until it hit $15.

Scroll through our interactive explainer to dig into the ongoing national debate over whether the lowest paid workers in our economy deserve a raise. [Article continues below graphic.]

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The proposed voter initiative would raise the state minimum wage to $15 as well, but by 2021, one year earlier.

If either is approved, it would mark California’s third minimum wage hike  since 2014. California would also become the first state in the nation  to adopt a $15 an hour minimum wage. 5.6 million low-wage earners would be affected by the pay increase, additional average annual earnings of $3,700, according to UC Berkeley Labor Center study.

Also on Thursday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders announced an a budget agreement that would raise the minimum wage in New York City to $15 by the end of 2018, with slower increases elsewhere throughout the state.

Interactive Explainer: What You Need to Know about the Rising Minimum Wage in California and Beyond 12 September,2016Matthew Green

  • Jerry Okamura

    If raising the minimum wage is such a great idea, why not raise it much higher? Why not raise the minimum to say $50 an hour?

    • rubisco

      Yeah. If drinking 2 liters of water a day is such a great idea, why not drink much more? Why not drink 40 gallons a day?

    • MostlyPerfect

      Where was this spirit when Bush raised minimum wage? Oh wait, he was a republican so it was ok. 😀 A majority of Republican representatives support this as they do immigration reform. And they’ll be happy to enact it…. when Obama isn’t president. It has absolutely nothing to do with what is right or wrong and everything to do with who gets the credit.

      • topdognyc

        What the fuck do you think you’re actually talking about?

        • R. S. S.

          The truth. Plenty of conservatives agree with raising the minimum wage because they see their local people suffering and their communities kids hurting. But as long as a half black man is in office they will not do anything and will make us bleed even more just because they can! I will never vote Republican EVER because of this!

    • Cis

      Did you pay attention at all to the graphics? Have you bothered to do any research of your own? Try educating yourself instead of listening to some tired ass Fox News talking points. Why not $50 an hour? Because it’s ridiculous. A functional minimum wage is one that is adjusted for cost of living and/or inflation. A viable, livable minimum wage is all anybody is asking for, not some lavish lifestyle.

      • Divemedic

        I think that was his point. If raising the wage to $15 is good, why wouldn’t $50 be better? The reason is that the $50 an hour rate would cause inflation.
        If $50 an hour would cause inflation, then why doesn’t $15 an hour?

  • Stuart_MacLean

    Do what Congress does; ‘print’ your own, raise your own ‘debt ceiling’. “Play by the same set of rules”!!!!

    • rubisco

      Equating personal budgets with the way the government handles money is ignorant, as is suggesting that the debt ceiling has anything to do with the budget. We raise the debt ceiling because we have *already spent the money*. If you want to complain about spending, let’s talk about where spending is allocated, rather than the point where we actually pay our debts.

      • Stuart_MacLean

        That’s my point! Government doesn’t ‘handle money’ the way we do; they can ‘print it’!! That’s why they’ve amassed $17T in debt & $90T in ‘unfunded liabilities’ and continue to promise ‘Affordable Housing, Healthcare, Education….. Our government is IGNORANT in ‘thinking’ it can ‘pay’ debt by ‘printing’ money. NOBODY CAN!!!

        Read Justice Fields ‘Heroic Lone Dissent’ on the last ‘legal-tender’ case tried before the Supreme Court in 1884. “From the Decision of the court I see only evil likely to follow….And why should there be any restraint upon unlimited appropriations by the government for all imaginary schemes of public improvement, if the printing-press can furnish the money that is needed for them”

        It’s not the POWER; it’s the PURSE! Our ‘money’ violates Article 1, Section 8; it’s unconstitutional!!

        • rubisco

          Actually, the reason we have amassed debt is because we have agreed to pay for multiple wars on credit. The fact that you didn’t even include that in the list of budget items adding to the debt each year suggests to me that you’re incapable or unwilling to consider the whole picture, and have instead taken the stance of blaming the so-called “takers”, or the low and no income folks in this country.

          • Stuart_MacLean

            No Rubisco, I agree….Congress gets away with ‘spending’ on wars (arguably their only real authority) from the Civil War, WWI & II, thru Korea, Vietnam….because the SCOTUS said they could. The deciding Judge, Gray, said Congress required the ‘means’ to invoke whatever they deem “Necessary & Proper”. He said ‘money’ was a ‘political question’, not a ‘judicial’ one. In doing so he overturned Article I, Section 8; ‘Congress shall have the power ‘to coin money’. The ‘decision’ prompted the Founder of Annapolis & former Secretary of the Navy, George Bancroft to write “A Plea for the Constitution – Wounded in the House of Its’ Guardians”.

            “Paper money is a corruption of the blood. Or paper
            money is the dry rot, which silently and unseen consumes the beams and joists which support the house and its floors.”

            “I am pleading the cause of industry, the cause of labor, the cause of the poor;…….”


            I agree, government has used ‘war’ to justify spending and to violate Constitutional money.

        • R. S. S.

          To be fair I bet you use their printed out of thin air fake fiat money too lol…they have not only made it illegal to not use it, but have come up with everyway possible to enslave us with it. Thats why people want to use bitcoin, not because they think its cool.

  • silverbal

    Very good job on infographics! It’s an article read like a slideshow. 2014 seems suddenly more hopeful than before.

  • Belen A.

    I think they should raise it up ,but not to high because due to the economy we would might go back to The Great Depression. If we put at a price about lets $20 it would work just fine.We should have a fair price though because $7 an hour won’t get you much of what you need or for your family.

    • R. S. S.

      Does not matter. Raise it as high as you want, employers will keep cutting our god damn hours. Pat time at less than 8 dollars an hour IS NOT ENOUGH TO BREATHE ON LET ALONE LIVE. At 20 dollars an hour thats the same as making 10 dollars an hour. At 30 dollars an hour thats the same as making 15 because these employers get away with only hiring PART TIME employees!

      • Joel Detrow

        That’s not how it works. Employers use part-time workers to avoid having to follow government mandates for employee healthcare, the threshold of which kick in at full-time, consistently 35+ hours per week.

        You seem to think employers don’t actually need employees. If they cut your hours, it’s either because they can do so without harming their business (technology replacing you / reduced customer load) or to have someone else do the work you were going to. Employers only hire employees that they NEED, and they only have people working at times when they NEED those people.

        If a store needs two employees in the store at all times in order to effectively do business, they will have two employees on the clock at all times no matter what. Cutting hours per employee would just mean they have to hire more employees, because their staffing needs are constant.

        Some stores make the mistake of overprovisioning hires, where they have more employees on the payroll than they do hours to give them, so the employees that have lower performance will find themselves with the fewest hours; this typically means either new employees or experienced but lazy employees, but sometimes it’s as simple as the manager not liking you.

        Employee wages are a constant expense of doing business, and the business will set the price of their goods and services accordingly such that they can pay their constant expenses while still making a profit. A minimum wage means ALL businesses have that small portion of their constant expenses go up. They will either absorb the cost (if they make enough profit), or their prices will go up to compensate.

  • Divemedic

    There are legitimate questions that get lost in the partisan hyperbole:
    1 How will you deal with the fact that all employers will have to raise prices to afford the new wages, thus diluting the new earning power that the higher wages brought?
    2 How will this play with amnesty? Since we as a nation are no longer deporting illegals, won’t employers simply hire more illegals at a lower wage?
    3 At what point do these wage increases price American workers out of the market? Will these new wages make it more cost effective for places to automate, and replace workers with previously unaffordable machines?
    4 What about pay compression? That is, a worker that currently makes $14 an hour doing skilled labor will be making the same $15 an hour that a high school dropout does while bagging groceries. What will be the incentive for workers to learn a trade or skill?



Matthew Green

Matthew Green produces and edits The Lowdown, KQED’s multimedia news education blog, an online resource for educators and the general public. He previously taught journalism at Fremont High School in East Oakland, and has written for numerous local publications, including the Oakland Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle. Email:; Twitter: @KQEDlowdown

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