The Orange County Living Wage Project has increased what they consider their living wage.

As of January 1, OCLW’s living wage is $13.70 per hour, or $12.20 for employers that offer health insurance.

Chair of OCLW’s steering committee Susan Romaine says the adjustment accounts for an increase in rent in the area.

“We use something called the Universal Living Wage Formula, and that is based on a US Department of Housing and Urban Development Standard that says no more than 30 percent of a person’s gross income should be spent on housing,” said Romaine.

Romaine calls paying a living wage a “win-win-win”, as in it benefits employees, employers and the community at large.

“Of course, many employees are thrilled,” said Romaine. “At the same time, many employers report to us that the higher wage is increasing overall retention of their employees, their employees are more loyal, customer relations are better, a lot of business owners are telling us by paying a living wage it’s actually been very good for their bottom line.”

Romaine says that OCLW hopes to push those employers that are close to the $13.70 mark over the edge in 2018, which she believes only stands to benefit the community.

“All of this extra cash in the pockets of these workers is a really big shot in the arm for our local economy,” said Romaine. “So, our goal in 2018 is to not only certify as many as 50 new living wage employers, but we’re especially interested in trying to certify more businesses that are close to the living wage, but not quite there yet.”

According to last year’s living wage 138 employers in Orange County paid a living wage, which will change as the increased wage goes into effect.