(CALMATTERS) – Due to skyrocketing inflation rates, California’s minimum wage for all employers will likely rise to $15.50 an hour starting Jan. 1, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration said Thursday.

The announcement came during the administration’s preview of an $18.1 billion inflation relief package Newsom will likely discuss in more detail today, when he unveils a revised version of his January budget proposal — and it supercharges a debate already primed to intensify in a key election year.

Also Thursday, supporters of a proposed ballot measure to raise California’s minimum wage to $18 per hour announced having submitted more than 1 million signatures — far more than the about 623,000 required to land it on the November ballot.

  • Joe Sanberg, the Los Angeles investor behind the proposed ballot measure“Tacking 50 cents onto the current minimum wage doesn’t come close to making ends meet for working families. We need a living wage of $18 per hour to keep pace with inflation so that working people and their families can afford food and a place to live without having to take on second and third jobs.”
  • California’s current minimum wage is $15 per hour for employers with at least 26 workers and $14 per hour for employers with fewer workers, though that was set to increase to $15 on Jan. 1.
  • But an inflation rate above 7% triggers a requirement that the minimum wage also rise at a faster rate — meaning all employers would have to pay $15.50 starting Jan. 1, said Keely Bosler, director of the state Department of Finance. She said the state expects to finalize inflation numbers in July.

While many labor unions cheered the announcement — “Increasing the minimum wage at this time of spiking prices is a just and urgently needed measure,” said David Huerta, president of SEIU California and SEIU-United Services Workers West — some small business owners said it could further impede California’s economic recovery.

Newsom’s proposed $18.1 billion relief package also includes: