California Today: California Today: Raises Come With Increase in Minimum Wage

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Unionists and minimum-wage activists gathered for a Labor Day rally in downtown Los Angeles on Sept. 4.

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Richard Vogel/Associated Press

Good morning.

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This week, nearly 20 percent of the state’s work force received a raise: the minimum wage inched up to $11 for most employers, giving roughly 2.5 million people more money in their weekly paychecks, according to economists at the University of California, Berkeley.

The increase is part of the gradual phase-in of the state’s $15-an-hour minimum wage, which was approved by the governor in 2016. Workers now earning the lowest wages will have to wait until 2023 to reach $15 an hour, but they can expect a $1 increase every year until then.

“For people living on the edge, 50 cents really makes a difference, but the real impact is going to come later,” said Ken Jacobs, the chairman of the Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. Mr. Jacobs added that several studies have showed better health in low-income children after the minimum wage increased. “When the full phase in happens that’s a significant amount of money that makes a large difference in people’s lives.”

It is far too early to say just how the increase is affecting businesses or whether the bump is changing the lives of low-income families, but economists are watching closely to understand the impact of the increase.

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“The short answer is we don’t know much yet,” said David Neumark, a professor of economics and the director of the Economic Self-Sufficiency Policy Research Institute at University of California, Irvine.

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Because the increase is phased in, the effect on both business and individuals will be most acute in later years, when more people will be receiving a raise.

Already, some restaurants have moved to using iPads instead of servers to save money on labor costs. And a few businesses have blamed the minimum wage increase for putting them out of business. But Mr. Neumark said he’s skeptical to believe the bump is the reason.

“What you really need to keep your eye on is two things: First, is low-skill employment declining or growing less slowly than it would have otherwise?” he said. “And are the benefits of higher wages really going to low-income families?”

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Even as California has expanded the sale of marijuana in the state, the Trump administration has taken steps to allow federal prosecutors to be more aggressive in prosecuting marijuana cases.

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Jim Wilson/The New York Times

• The Trump administration says federal prosecutors will be more aggressive in going after marijuana cases. But four days after recreational cannabis became legal in the state, California reacted with defiance. [The New York Times]

• Every new car sold in the state must be zero emissions by 2040 or 2025, according to legislation making its way through the Capitol this week. [SF Gate]

• The California billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer isn’t running for president — yet. But web domains for his future and potential runs are already secure. [Yahoo News]

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Tugboats pulled a Chevron drilling platform toward the Gulf of Mexico in 2013. The Trump administration said Thursday it would open most of the country’s offshore waters to oil and gas drilling.

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Eddie Seal/Bloomberg, via Getty Images

• The Trump administration said Thursday it would allow new offshore oil and gas drilling in nearly all United States coastal waters, giving energy companies access to leases off California for the first time in decades. [The New York Times]

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• Last month’s wildfires put a renewed spotlight on homeless encampments all over the city. [KQED]

• Mike Tyson is now growing marijuana in the Death Valley. Half of the acreage on Tyson Ranch will be devoted to cannabis growing. The rest will feature a cultivation school and edible factory. [SF Gate]

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Newsroom employees at The Los Angeles Times voted Thursday on whether to join the NewsGuild union, which would represent roughly 380 employees.

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Emily Berl for The New York Times

• Newsroom employees at The Los Angeles Times began voting on whether or not to form a union. Many believe it is the first time journalists have had a union in the more than century long history at the paper. [The New York Times]

American-born farm workers are a rarity in the Central Valley, but this farmer embraces those who are wiling to work in the fields. [Los Angeles Times]

• We’re going to have a wall, the president insisted Thursday. [Los Angeles Times]

• After more than 15 women accused Judge Alex Kozinski of sexual harassment, one writer asks: “How should the notoriously secretive and clubby branch of government respond?” [The New York Times]

And Finally …

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Part of the Sierra Nevada mountain range near Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

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Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Yesterday we wrote about the snowpack in Sierra Nevada, using the term “Sierras” to describe the area that provides roughly a third of the state’s water. Several readers wrote to us demanding a correction: in Spanish sierra is plural, so “sierras” is redundant and therefore wrong.

But in many parts of the state, people refer to the range as “the Sierras,” in the way they’d use “the Cascades” to refer to the Cascade Mountains.

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“You also call freeways ‘The 405,’” said Steve Frisch, the president of Sierra Business Council, said with a laugh when I called him Thursday. He implores all of his employees at the nonprofit to avoid the plural, even if hikers from all over the state use it. “Everyone who lives in the Sierra calls it the Sierra. It’s a symbol — are you an outsider or are you of the place? It’s really one of those are-you-one-of-us tests.”

As it turns out, the debate dates back at least to the 1920s, when Francis P. Farquhar, a mountaineer and environmentalist, wrote in the Sierra Club Bulletin that “the Sierras” are “so frequently found in the very best works of literature and science that it would perhaps be pedantic to deny their admissibility.”

The photographer Ansel Adams was less accommodating, writing in his autobiography that “To add an s is a linguistic, Californian and mountaineering sin.”

We hope you can forgive us.

California Today goes live at 6 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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