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California Minimum Wage by City in 2023
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Workforce Management

California Minimum Wage by City in 2022 and 2023

One Minute Takeaway

  • The statewide minimum wage in California is $15.50 but cities within the state have varying wages.
  • Many CA city minimum wages are determined by the cost of living and is much higher than federal or state minimums.
  • Some cities in California have a minimum wage of $16/hr or higher.

California doesn’t have just one minimum wage—it has many.

The state of California has several minimum wage laws that can often be confusing and overwhelming for businesses. In California, the minimum wage is determined by a law that links it to the cost of living. This means that the wage increases along with inflation so that workers always earn a fair wage that can help them afford to live in the state.

Employers in California don’t only have to worry about federal and state minimum wages, they’re also subject to dozens of local minimum wage ordinances. Many cities and counties across the state have legislated their own minimum wage laws that are even higher than federal or state minimum wage.

These local minimum wages typically increase on an annual basis, before August 1, based on inflation as measured by the local Consumer Price Index (CPI). The state of California and many of its municipalities also specify a separate, smaller minimum wage law for small businesses with fewer than 26 employees. Before August 1 of every year, the Director of Finance determines if the minimum wage will increase based on the rate of inflation. 

What is the Minimum Wage in California?

As of 2023, the minimum wage rate for all employers in California is $15.50. The minimum base wages are the same for non-exempt employees.

Local regulations add yet another layer of complexity to California’s labor laws. If you operate in more than one location, you could be subject to multiple different minimum wage levels in a single day. Get your calculations wrong and you face the prospect of wage and hour lawsuits.

Whether it’s the minimum wage in San Jose or SF minimum wage, to help your organization stay compliant with the latest minimum wage requirements, Paycor has created this chart of California minimum wage by city and county.

Please note that although the California minimum wage is $15.50/hr, the federal minimum wage is still just $7.25/hr.

County or City2023 Minimum Wage2023 Minimum Wage for Small Businesses
Alameda$16.52 (effective 7/1/23)
Berkeley$18.07 (effective 7/1/23)
Daly City$16.07
East Palo Alto$16.50
El Cerrito$17.35
Emeryville$18.67 (effective 7/1/23)
Foster City$16.50
Fremont$16.80 (effective 7/1/23)
Half Moon Bay$16.45
Los Altos$17.20
Los Angeles$16.78
Los Angeles County$15.96
Malibu$16.90 (effective 7/1/23)
Menlo Park$16.20
Milpitas$17.20 (effective 7/1/23)
Mountain View$18.15
Novato$16.32 + CPI (for businesses with 100+ employees)$15.53 + CPI (for businesses with 26-99 employees)
Palo Alto$17.25
Pasadena$16.93 (effective 7/1/23)$15.00
Redwood City$17.00
San Carlos$16.32
San Diego$16.30
San Francisco$18.07 (effective 7/1/23)
San Jose$17.00
San Leandro$15.50
San Mateo$16.75
Santa Clara$17.20
Santa Monica$16.90 (effective 7/1/23)
Santa Rosa$17.06
South San Francisco$16.70 + CPI
Sunnyvale$17.95 + CPI
West Hollywood$19.08 for all employers (effective 7/1/23)

In certain jurisdictions, nonprofits are exempted or subject to a lower minimum wage. Exemptions or reductions may also apply to younger exempt employees classified as ‘learners’. Additionally, there may be higher minimum wage levels for employees of large hotels or airports. Unlike some states, California does not allow employers to take tip credits, and so there is no separate tipped minimum wage.

How should small business owners prepare for minimum wage increases?

While minimum wage increases may pose a challenge for small businesses, there are ways to stay ahead of the curve. By keeping up to date on changes to the minimum wage and adjusting prices and compensation as necessary, small business owners can avoid being caught off guard. 

If a minimum wage increase is on the horizon, it’s important to look at your budget and financial records, such as operational costs, in preparation for the change.

You will likely need to make some serious financial decisions, whether that means layoffs or increasing prices. You should also look at all your employees’ wages, not just the ones who will get the boost from an increase, as this might put their rate of pay close to some of your more senior staff who might make just above the new minimum wage rate.

Additionally, making sure professional employees are aware of the changes and how they may be affected can help minimize the impact on the business. Finally, communicating with customers about any price changes can help ensure that they understand and are prepared for the changes. 

What is the California Minimum Wage for 2023?

The state-wide California minimum wage is $15.50 per hour for all employer sizes. However, different cities can create minimum wage laws that are higher than the state minimum wage. Because the cost of living in California is quite high, especially in major cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, workers need to be paid a higher wage to afford the same standard of living as someone in a less expensive area. The minimum wage allows workers to earn a livable wage and helps to reduce income inequality.

What is a Good Hourly Wage in California?

The Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, put together what they find to be a living wage, a poverty wage, and the minimum wage for various states based on family size with their living-wage calculations of California. According to MIT’s research, a single person in California, who makes $21.82/hr is making a “living wage.” This is compared to the current $15.50/hr minimum wage, and a poverty wage of $6.19/hr.

For two adults living together with just one of them working, a living wage is $33.58/hr, compared to the $15.50/hr minimum wage, and $8.38/hr poverty wage.

For two adults living together who both work, a living wage is $16.79/hr, vs. $15.50/hr minimum wage, and $4.19/hr poverty wage.

These are all based on having no children, and the current minimum wage of $15.50/hr that is planned to rise to $15.50/hr on January 1, 2023.

If you have children, then the living wage calculation increases based on the number of children, and how many adults are working in the household.

What are Full-Time Hours in California?

Full-time employees in California work 40 hours/week and 5 business days.

The Affordable Care Act considers anyone working 30 hours or more per week at an employer with 50 or more employees, as one who is eligible for benefits in California. Full-time employment is at the discretion of the employer. It is up to each employer to determine whether or not they call anyone working less than 40 hours per week full-time.

Where is the Minimum Wage $16 an Hour in California?

Some locales with minimum wages of $16+ include Berkeley, Emeryville, Los Angeles, Milpitas, Pasadena, San Francisco, and more. Santa Rosa’s minimum wage is $17.06 from $15.85.

Can A Person Live in California on 50k a Year?

Living in California on $50,000 per year is not going to be easy. The high costs and the state’s relatively high-income tax rate means that a person would have to make some sacrifices to make ends meet.

Most of the state is very expensive, and even with a decent salary, it would be difficult to cover all of the costs.

On a budget of $50,000 per year, it may be wiser to look for more affordable areas to live in. Places like Sacramento or Riverside might be a good option, as the cost is relatively lower than in other parts of the state.

You could also get a higher paying job which would give you more money to work with each month. Or you could get a job that offers premium wage rates for working holidays or odd hours.

In general, living in California is more expensive than living in other parts of the country. However, there are many ways to save money if you are willing to be creative. With a little bit of planning, a person could live comfortably on $50,000 per year in California.

How Paycor Helps

The good news is that Paycor can help you stay compliant, wherever you are in the country. Even if employees work in multiple locations with divergent minimum wage levels, our system tracks all relevant legislation and will alert you if an employee’s pay is ever set below the allowed level for a given location.

This way, you can be confident that your employees are always getting the pay they deserve, no matter where they work. And if any changes to minimum wage levels occur, you’ll be one of the first to know, so you can adjust employee pay rates accordingly.

To learn more about how Paycor can help you stay compliant, save time and make better business decisions, talk to a member of our team.