In the wake of a veto in the Washington, D.C., effort to raise its minimum wage to $12.50 for several new Walmart (NYSE:WMT) stores, California has passed a $10 minimum wage bill that its governor has already said he will sign into law.
Under the bill, which Gov. Jerry Brown personally worked to pass, the current $8-per-hour minimum wage would rise to $9 on July 1, 2014, and to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016. That would give California the highest minimum wage of any U.S. state, though some cities have higher local minimum wages. Washington currently has the highest statewide minimum wage at $9.19. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have laws setting their minimum wage above the federal level of $7.25 per hour.
The minimum-wage bill made its way through the legislature against the backdrop of a series of demonstrations against Walmart and fast-food chains. The protesting fast-food employees have specifically set a $15-per-hour target for higher wages.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the effort to pass a higher local minimum-wage law that specifically targets new big-box stores is all but dead. Mayor Vincent Gray vetoed the measure last week after it was passed by the city council without a large enough margin to override a veto. That leaves the city's minimum wage at $8.25 for all retailers unless supporters can change the vote of at least one opponent, which appears unlikely.
Retailers can expect to see a succession of state minimum-wage increases as the economy slowly improves. In most cases, minimum wages are not tied to inflation, and few states increase their minimum wage levels during the recession. In California's case, the minimum wage was last raised in 2008.
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