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Local businesses prepare for California’s minimum wage increase

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - California is preparing for minimum wage to go up in the new year.

Employees at Santa Maria's new Jack-in-the-Box say they don’t mind getting a bigger paycheck.

"Everybody … we are happy you know because we need it," said employee Javier Cruz of Jack-in-the-Box.

The restaurant is one of several local businesses needing to hire more employees during a rough year.

Even though the requirement goes into effect in January, employees make at least $15 an hour already.

"Right now we just have about 16 employees and a lot of them are students so it’s still difficult because they come in and out," said manager David Gutierrez of Jack-in-the-Box.

Truck driver Javier Barrientos makes more than minimum wage.

But he’s at Jack-in-the-Box grabbing lunch for his family and supporting the local business.

"I think that’s great I mean the cost of living goes up so I think wages should go up … people do need to survive in America ... people can’t make it on just minimum wage," said Brrientos.

California's new law applies to businesses with 26 or more employees.

Small companies with fewer workers must now pay at least $14 an hour.

But we found local small businesses already paying the higher rate in order to attract workers.

Over at Chick-fil-A, the franchise owner is already paying at least $15 an hour.

"My average wage if you factor in all of my employees is close to about $18.50," said owner Joey Hickox of Chick-fil-A.

With this increase, California will have the highest statewide minimum wage in the country.

The new rate more than doubles what the federal government requires which is $7.25 an hour.

California’s minimum wage is currently $14 an hour.

The state's minimum wage will rise to $15 an hour starting Jan. 1, 2022.

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Patricia Martellotti

Patricia Martellotti is a reporter for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Patricia, click here.

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