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California Implements $20 Minimum Wage for Fast-Food Workers



California Implements $20 Minimum Wage

Guess what happened in California on Monday, April 1? Fast-food workers hit the jackpot with a cool raise! Thanks to a new law called AB1228, their minimum wage shot up to $20 an hour. That’s a whopping 25% boost from what they were making just last week. Imagine that! This change affects big names like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC, Subway, and Starbucks. But here’s the thing: local franchise owners are kinda freaking out about it. Take Keith Miller, for example. He’s been running Subway joints in Northern California for 35 years. Back in the day, he could pay his employees a lot less. Now, he’s scratching his head as customers ask whatever happened to the “$5 footlong.” Times are changing, folks! And while the statewide minimum wage sits at $16 an hour, some places like San Diego pay even more. It’s a wild ride for fast-food workers out there.

Fast-food gigs are notorious for being some of the lowest-paying jobs in the whole U.S. job market. It’s a tough reality where wages have been on the upswing lately, but it’s been a long time coming. For years, wages were stuck in a rut, not going anywhere. Who’s usually on the frontlines of these jobs? Well, it’s often women, immigrants, and folks from diverse backgrounds, especially people of color. Sadly, many of them are barely making ends meet, living below the poverty line. It’s a tough situation, but hopefully, these wage increases can start making a real difference for those who need it most.

Jaylene, a McDonald’s worker in LA, says California’s pricey, especially with inflation making everything more expensive. Tough times for folks just trying to get by.

Jaylene lives with her parents in a one-bedroom pad, and they’re dealing with health stuff. She’s hoping this raise will help her save up for a bigger place or just ease the money worries. “It gives me some breathing space,” she says. Outside fast food, the minimum wage in California is still $16 an hour, but some spots pay more. Employers paying less than $20 will probably have a harder time finding workers. Tough luck for them.


California restaurant folks are feeling the pinch with higher labor costs. They’re talking about bumping up prices, bringing in more robots, slashing hours, or even shutting down.

Remember Pizza Hut? They let go of loads of delivery drivers before the wage hike and switched to apps like Uber Eats, hitting customers with extra fees.

And it’s not just them. Big names like Jack in the Box, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Chipotle are planning to jack up prices even more. Eating out is getting pricier, even though inflation’s cooling down elsewhere.

Take Brian Hom, for example. He’s running a couple of Vitality Bowls spots. He’s gotta hike up smoothie and salad prices by 5% to 10% just to cover his 30-odd workers’ higher wages.


“I’m glad my team’s getting paid more,” says Hom. “But I’m worried about the business. Can we keep it going?”

Others reckon workers might end up with fewer hours. That’s what happened in Seattle after a wage hike, research says. Workers didn’t lose jobs, but they worked less – still making more dough, though. Tough choices all around.

So, here’s the deal with the new wage law, it’s for big fast-food joints with at least 60 spots nationwide. But some small places like bakeries and tiny spots in grocery stores, airports, and such are off the hook.

Now, California’s often a trendsetter, right? What happens here often gets copied elsewhere. So, fingers crossed, this higher pay for fast-food workers might spark a trend, spreading to other jobs in the state and even across the whole country.


Lately, the fight for better pay has mostly been happening at the local and state levels. The federal minimum wage? It’s stuck at a measly $7.25 an hour. Time for a change, huh?