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State Approves Wage Hike Despite Overwhelming Unemployment Numbers

(UnitedVoice.com) – California has some of the highest living expenses in the country. The state has repeatedly raised the minimum wage in recent years to keep up with the cost of living. Recently, it increased pay for fast food workers.

On April 1, fast-food workers across California received a boost when a $20-per-hour minimum wage went into effect. That’s the highest minimum wage in the country and gave fast-food workers a 25% increase in their paychecks. The law isn’t completely clear about what establishments will be subject to the new minimum wage.

The law applies to chain restaurants with “limited or no table services” and more than 60 franchises across the state. It also defines a fast-food restaurant as a business that sells drinks and food that customers select and pay for beforehand. That means companies like Chipotle and McDonald’s have to increase the wages for their workers. Additionally, smaller venues such as coffee and ice cream shops also have to raise their prices. However, if they have fewer than 60 locations across the country, they aren’t subject to the new law.

Critics have cited a number of issues with increasing fast-food workers’ pay that much. Some restaurants have laid off workers in a state where the unemployment rate is already the highest in the country.

In December, Pizza Hut announced it was laying off all of its delivery drivers and using DoorDash and Uber Eats instead. Southern California Pizza Co. also laid off workers.

School districts across the state are also worried about the new law. Fortune reported school cafeterias are being forced to compete with fast-food restaurants. Cafeteria workers are traditionally some of the lowest-paid workers in the education field, and the new wage might make working at McDonald’s more attractive than working in a school lunchroom.

California School Nutrition Association President Carrie Bogdanovich said schools are “very worried about it” and believe “it will be harder and harder to hire employees.”

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