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Minimum wage hike could affect farmers, immigrant workers' wages

Orange County residents may be interested in details about the new minimum wage law and how it may affect farmers and immigrant workers. With many farm workers already above the minimum wage, the increase may still spell financial trouble for farmers.

In 2013, the California assembly passed a law that mandated a minimum wage of $9 an hour beginning on July 1, 2014. In 2016, the minimum wage will raise again to $10 an hour. One agricultural economics professor says that this minimum wage hike will have an effect on the wage structure of agricultural workers, even on those who are already making above the minimum wage. This is because there is a pre-existing hierarchy for wages, and those with more experience may expect their wages to rise in order to retain that existing structure.

Others in the agricultural industry agree that the change will have an impact. With higher wages come other raised costs as well, such as unemployment and workers' compensation insurance that the employer must pay. This increased minimum wage could also prevent new businesses from entering the market due to the additional expenditures that the new minimum brings. This, coupled with other concerns like drought, worker shortages and the Affordable Care Act, could make things financially difficult for farmers.

With the new increases in the minimum wage, immigrant employees may be able to make sure that their employers are following the new laws. In many cases, employment immigration attorneys may be able to help the employee ensure that their rights are being respected.

Source: AgAlert, "$9 per hour minimum wage starts next week", Christine Souza, June 25, 2014

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