The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously today to raise the county’s Living Wage an additional 2.26% to $17.65 an hour, effective July 1.
The increase–the second approved by the Board of Supervisors in three months–is designed to help shield low-wage workers from inflationary pressures that have sharply driven up the price of consumer goods and services over the last two years.
On Dec. 6, 2022, the Board raised the Living Wage to $17.25 an hour, effective Jan. 1. The 2.74% hike matched the cost-of-living adjustment granted to county employees in 2022. At the same time, the Board agreed to consider a second increase in the Living Wage this spring, noting that consumer prices had increased 6% over the last year (U.S. Labor Department’s consumer price index for all urban consumers, October 2022).
Today’s action, combined with the Board’s decision in December, will increase the Living Wage by 5% this year, matching the cost-of-living adjustment currently proposed to members of Service Employees’ International Union Local 1021, the county’s largest union.
The Living Wage ordinance creates a baseline wage for individuals employed directly by the county government and workers in private companies and nonprofits that contract with the County of Sonoma. Most already earn more than the Living Wage hourly rate, but the ordinance ensures they are paid more than the state minimum wage, which rose to $15.50 an hour on Jan. 1, 2023.
The increase will apply to all new county contracts on July 1 and expand to cover existing contracts on Sept. 30. It generally applies to private companies with six or more employees, if they supply $25,000 annually or more in contracted services to the county, and to nonprofits that have 25 or more employees and supply more than $50,000 annually in services to the county. The requirements also apply to entities that annually receive more than $100,000 in economic development assistance. All county government suppliers must certify they have complied with the Living Wage ordinance during the contracting process.
Employers who contribute to workers’ health care or retirement benefits receive a credit of $1.50 off the hourly rate; employers who contribute to both health care and retirement benefits receive a credit of $3 off the hourly rate.
The Board of Supervisors first approved a Living Wage ordinance in December 2015 as one way to combat poverty, initially setting the wage at $15 an hour beginning in July 2016. It raised the wage to $16.75 an hour in January 2022 and $17.25 an hour in January 2023.
Four other Northern California counties—Marin, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz—have adopted a Living Wage ordinance, according to the UC Berkeley Labor Center. The cities of Sebastopol, Sonoma and Petaluma have also adopted Living Wage ordinances.