Santa Monica’s Minimum and Living Wages Rose Today, But Can’t Keep Up with the Cost of Living


Santa Monica’s Minimum and Living Wages Go Up Every Year on July 1

Happy fiscal New Year Santa Monica.

Every year on July 1, the minimum and living wages in the City of Santa Monica increase thanks to an ordinance passed in 2016. Santa Monicans take pride in having one of the most progressive minimum wage laws in America, and workers benefit by seeing an annual increase in the lowest wages allowed in the city. From the city’s press release:

  • The minimum wage increased from $16.90 to $17.27 per hour effective earlier this day.  This amount increases annually by the published Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Works (CPI-W) for the Los Angeles metropolitan area (LA-Riverside-Orange County, CA) published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Santa Monica posts the new rates annually on or near January 1st.
  • The wage for hotels and businesses operating on hotel property is $19.73 per hour and will increase to $20.32 per hour effective on July 1, 2024.  This rate aligns with the City of LA’s Hotel Worker Minimum Wage Rate.  Santa Monica will post these new rates annually on or near May 15th.

A living wage is the salary level at which a worker can expect to live without fear of losing housing or without food insecurity. Santa Monica requires that all organizations that contract with the city that receive at least $54,200 in city funds during the course of a fiscal year pay their workers a living Wage. The living wage for Santa Monica increased from $19.73 to $20.23 per hour.

Even with this success, the minimum wage and living wage rise at a lower rate than the cost of living. The living wage was increased by just over 25%, the minimum wage is up 2.9% for hotel and hospitality workers, and is up 2.2% for all other workers earning a minimum wage. Earlier this month, the city celebrated that rent in rent controlled units will increase by “only 3%” when rents can increase this fall.

Image via the MIT Minimum Wage Calculator for Southern California as calculated last February.

The annual rise in the minimum wage, especially in comparison with the national trend of rarely raising the wage, is a positive move by the city. However, the increase for those not working in hotels falls below the living wage for Southern California for every demographic as calculated by the Living Wage Calculator created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. However, Santa Monica is doing better than most as the city’s minimum wage is far higher than that mandated by the state.

Santa Monica’s minimum wage law passed by voters in 2016 also requires Santa Monica employers to provide 40 hours (small businesses) or 72 hours (larger businesses) of paid sick leave

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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