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County Administrator's Office

For Immediate Release

Sonoma County increases Living Wage to $17.25 an hour starting on Jan. 1, 2023

SANTA ROSA, CA | December 06, 2022

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously today to raise the county’s Living Wage 2.74 percent to $17.25 an hour, while opening the door for an additional increase in the spring to keep pace with inflation.

Under the County’s current living wage ordinance, any increase to the hourly rate may not exceed the most recent cost-of-living adjustment granted to County of Sonoma employees, which was 2.74 percent. However, the supervisors made clear their desire to increase the living wage ordinance further, given the gap between the 6 percent consumer price index posted by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in November and the most recent County employee cost-of-living adjustment of 2.74 percent. The Board directed staff to bring back a follow-up increase at the same time proposed revisions to the living wage ordinance are discussed at the end of March.

The 2.74 percent increase in the living wage rate applies primarily to workers in private companies and nonprofits that contract with the County of Sonoma. It also applies to all individuals employed directly by the county government. The boost to $17.25 an hour keeps the County’s living wage rate ahead of the state minimum wage, which rises on Jan. 1, 2023, to $15.50 an hour. The County of Sonoma and its contractors already pay most workers more than the living wage hourly rate.

“All workers deserve the opportunity to earn a wage they can live on,” said Supervisor James Gore, chair of the Board of Supervisors. “As the largest employer in the county, we are leading by example in raising the Living Wage for all of our contracted services. We will revisit the issue again next spring and continue to explore additional actions we can take to improve the Living Wage ordinance.”

The increase will apply to all new contracts on Jan. 1, 2023 and expand to cover existing contracts on March 31, 2023. It applies to private companies with six or more employees if they supply $25,000 annually or more in contracted services to the county and 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 implemented the ordinance in July 2016 as one way to combat poverty, initially setting the wage at $15 an hour. It raised the wage to $16.75 an hour in December 2021.

The Board of Supervisors will consider updates to the ordinance in March. To provide more predictability on the cycle of future wage increases, the Board is expected to consider aligning any future increase to the Living Wage rate with the October CPI-U, with a specified percentage cap and the discretion not to implement an increase in any given year. Supervisors are also expected to consider realigning the yearly increase with the July 1 start of the county’s fiscal year, creating an opportunity for the Board to consider another increase to the wage next spring.

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.

Media Contact: 
Matt Brown, Communications Specialist 
(707) 565-3040
575 Administration Drive, Suite 104A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403