Minimum-wage workers in the state got a raise yesterday — California’s minimum hourly wage jumped 75 cents to $7.50. It’s the first of two scheduled increases, with another 50-cent increase slated for January 2008.

The legislation was signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger in September. (We reported the change and some of its speculated effects in this story.) The measure was opposed by many business groups, including the state’s Chamber of Commerce. Many public policy groups say the increase is a step in the right direction but falls short of enabling the state’s low income families to enjoy a better quality of life.

The wage change comes at a time when minimum wage discussions have reached the national level — the national wage floor, $5.15 an hour, hasn’t changed since 1997, and Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat majority are pledging to change that. President Bush has said he supports the plan, which would boost the wage by $2.10 to $7.25 an hour over two years.

And there’s an interesting story in the San Francisco Chronicle today about that city’s minimum wage — it’s tied to an ordinance that accounts for cost of living. As of yesterday, the city’s minimum wage was $9.14 an hour, up from $8.82 an hour. It’s one of three cities in the country (Santa Fe, N.M., and Washington, D.C., are the others) that has the special wage consideration.

When the California legislation passed in September, I heard from a couple of readers who thought the wage increase was an excuse for the government to pass the responsibility for caring for low-income families to the business sector.

Are you affected by the minimum wage change, either as a worker or as a business owner? What do you think the effects will be of this change? Should San Diego try to adopt an ordinance like the San Francisco one? Click my name below to send me your thoughts.

And, happy New Year.


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