Minimum Wage in California

Author: Jason Coles

Updated On:

The minimum wage in California for 2023 is $15.50 per hour for all business employees, regardless of whether you work for a small or large employer. This minimum wage rate is a 50 cents increase for those who worked in large businesses (26 employees or more) in 2022 and a significant $1.50 hourly increase for those who worked in small businesses (25 employees or less).

California has always had one of the highest minimum wage rates out of all 50 states and this is due to the state’s CPI being so high. Since 2016, California’s minimum wage has been consistently increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of between 4-9%.

Interestingly, California no longer has two different minimum wage rates depending on the size of the business you work for. Instead, in 2023 there is a universal minimum wage rate for all employees within the Golden State regardless of how large your employer is. This was due to the enactment of Senate Bill (SB) 3.

Did the California Minimum Wage Go Up?

The graphic below highlights the California minimum wage over the past several years. Minimum wage rates for the previous years in California are displayed as small business employee minimum wage at the top, and large business employee minimum wage at the bottom. In 2023, the two minimum wage rule in California was scrapped, creating one universal wage of $15.50 per hour.

The California minimum wage increase was set to be a regular occurrence according to the California Department of Industrial Relations. For more information on the minimum wage in all 50 states, check out our Minimum Wage in US States table where you will find them all listed in alphabetical order.

If you are a full-time worker on minimum wage in California, your earnings could be as follows:

  • Weekly Minimum Wage: $620 (based on a 40-hour week)
  • Yearly Minimum Wage: $32,240 (based on being paid 52 weeks per year)
  • There is a pretty large income tax rate in California, which will, unfortunately, be deducted from your wages.

You can view and download the California minimum wage labor law poster for 2022-2023 here at no charge. Employers must display an official poster outlining the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), ensuring that accurate employee time and pay records are kept.

There are many interesting facts about California that you probably haven’t heard of. Feel free to check out a comprehensive list of them that also includes some very important economic facts if you are looking to start your own business or franchise or get a job in the state.

California Minimum Wage History

The table below provides the current rate and history of California’s minimum wage over the past 40+ years since 1983. You can see when there were increases in the minimum wage, how much they were, and what percentage increase it represents each year.

StateWage for employers with 26 employees or moreWage for employers with 25 employees or less
California Minimum Wage 2023$15.50$15.50
California Minimum Wage 2022$15.00$14.00
California Minimum Wage 2021$14.00$13.00
California Minimum Wage 2020$13.00$12.00
California Minimum Wage 2019$12.00$11.00
California Minimum Wage 2018$11.00$10.50
California Minimum Wage 2017$10.50$10.00
California Minimum Wage 2016$10.00$10.00
California Minimum Wage 2015$9.00$9.00
California Minimum Wage 2014$9.00$9.00
California Minimum Wage 2013$8.00$8.00
California Minimum Wage 2012$8.00$8.00
California Minimum Wage 2011$8.00$8.00
California Minimum Wage 2010$8.00$8.00
California Minimum Wage 2009$8.00$8.00
California Minimum Wage 2008$8.00$8.00
California Minimum Wage 2007$7.50$7.50
California Minimum Wage 2006$6.75$6.75
California Minimum Wage 2005$6.75$6.75
California Minimum Wage 2004$6.75$6.75
California Minimum Wage 2003$6.75$6.75
California Minimum Wage 2002$6.75$6.75
California Minimum Wage 2001$6.25$6.25
California Minimum Wage 2000$6.25$6.25
California Minimum Wage 1999$5.75$5.75
California Minimum Wage 1998$5.75$5.75
California Minimum Wage 1997$5.15$5.15
California Minimum Wage 1996$4.75$4.75
California Minimum Wage 1995$4.25$4.25
California Minimum Wage 1994$4.25$4.25
California Minimum Wage 1993$4.25$4.25
California Minimum Wage 1992$4.25$4.25
California Minimum Wage 1991$4.25$4.25
California Minimum Wage 1990$4.25$4.25
California Minimum Wage 1989$4.25$4.25
California Minimum Wage 1988$4.25$4.25
California Minimum Wage 1987$3.35$3.35
California Minimum Wage 1986$3.35$3.35
California Minimum Wage 1985$3.35$3.35
California Minimum Wage 1984$3.35$3.35
California Minimum Wage 1983$3.35$3.35

California Minimum Wage History – Downloadable PDF

California Minimum Wage Exemptions

In addition to the regular minimum wage rate, there are a few California state minimum wage exemptions that typically depend on your age or employment situation. Below are the various minimum wage exemptions with some situational examples.

California Student Minimum Wage

The minimum wage for student employees in California is 85% of the CA minimum wage, making their hourly pay $13.18 per hour in 2023.

This hourly rate is for any hours worked up to 20 hours per week. As a student employee, once you surpass 20 hours per week, you will be eligible to be paid the California minimum wage rate of $15.50 per hour.

Being a student can be financially challenging, leading many students to pick up part-time jobs to make extra money while studying. Despite a student minimum wage rate, many California employers will not necessarily follow it and pay you equal to or more than the statewide minimum wage.

Many work-study programs are available at universities, which is a route many students go down. Still, coffee shop, cafe, bar, and restaurant jobs are commonly taken by students as they can work them into their class schedule.

California Under 20 Minimum Wage

If you are under 20 years old in California, federal law allows your employer to pay you as little as $4.25 per hour for your first 90 days of employment.

Once the 90-day period is over, you will be eligible to be paid the 2023 California minimum wage of $15.50 per hour or potentially even more.

Fortunately for young workers, this is 90 calendar days and not 90 working days; therefore, it can be completed relatively quickly and within about three months.

California Tipped Minimum Wage

Most states have their own unique minimum wage rate and then a tip credit rate on top to ensure the tipped employee receives the minimum wage rate. However, California does not – all tipped employees in California will be paid the minimum wage rate of $15.50 per hour or more, no more, no less, and no tip credit!

California Overtime Minimum Wage

Once you work over 40 hours a week, you are eligible to be paid an overtime rate of 1.5 times your hourly wage for every hour you work past 40. So, the overtime minimum wage in California is $23.25 per hour, 1.5 times the minimum wage of $15.50 per hour.

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Jason Coles

Jason Coles is the Founder of Foreign USA and its Chief Content Writer and Editor. Recognized as a prolific business plan writer by many prominent immigration attorneys in the U.S., Jason has written over 1,200 business plans over the past 16+ years for start-ups looking to establish and expand their footprint in the United States.