Oof: California is officially raising its minimum wage to $10/hour by 2016

Democrats have been trying to make some hay over the issue of raising the minimum wage laws in preparation for the 2014 midterm fight next year, with such staunch advocates as California lawmakers Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Barbara Boxer — er — “championing” the issue by throwing around arbitrary estimates of what they deem a fair minimum wage sounds like. Generously, their home state of California has decided to step forward and provide a living laboratory of what the consequences of minimum-wage laws, especially in a slumped economy, can look like. Via AP:

California has become the first state in the nation to commit to raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour, with the increase to take place gradually through the start of 2016, under a bill Democratic Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on Wednesday.

The law raises minimum pay in the most populous U.S. state from its current rate of $8 per hour to $9 by July 2014, and $10 by January 2016, well above the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

The measure won support from Democrats, who wanted to help low-wage workers in a state where the cost of living is among the highest in the nation, passing the California state Senate by a vote of 26-11 and the Assembly by a 51-25 vote. But it was opposed by many Republicans, who said it would hurt small businesses and ultimately cost some low-wage workers their jobs. …

Brown, protective of the state’s tenuous economic recovery, initially opposed the bill but then agreed to support it after leaders of both houses of the legislature agreed to put off the effective date of the increase until 2016.

Did you catch even Jerry Brown’s initial reluctance there?

I completely share the sentiment and understand the impulse behind trying to alleviate the material hardship of low-income and hardworking Americans, but most unfortunately for these workers, minimum-wage laws are one of the most misguided and absolutely counterproductive ways to go about it. I’ve written time and time again about the job-killing and opportunity-erasing long-term effects of coercing employers into increasing their minimum wage, which certainly sounds easy and just on its face but is just a different and intellectually cheap way of saying increasing the price of hiring — and poor, inexperienced, and young workers end up finding it that much harder to find a job at all. The best way to lift workers out of poverty and create more opportunity is, as ever, to foster a robust and well-functioning economy instead of burdening it with backwards laws like this.

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