LOMA LINDA, Calif. (KABC) -- About 1,200 employees at Loma Linda University Health will get a raise as the company has instituted a "living wage" of $13 an hour.
All regular, benefited employees who work at least 20 hours per week will be eligible for the wage increase, and Loma Linda University Health said it intends to increase that minimum over the next few years to at least $15 per hour.
For someone like Shelia Luistro, a food service worker, the increase will help drastically.
At 40 hours a week, she makes a little more than $19,000 a year.
The money Luistro earns is used to support her family in the U.S. and in the Philippines.
"For me I would say it's a big help. Every penny that, you know, you're making every hour is a big help for me," Luistro said. "The extra income will affect me, it will help me with my rent, buying a car, paying my credit cards, that's really a big help for me."
The wage increase is expected to cost the Seventh-day Adventist teaching hospital $1 million to implement.
"We do hope it can set a standard. We believe there is an important justice and philosophical base to say it's appropriate for everybody to have this living wage concept," Dr. Richard Hart, president of Loma Linda University Health said.
Economist John Husing with the Inland Empire Economic Partnership said while many businesses won't follow the university's lead, he does see wages on the rise.
"One of the things we are beginning to see, even in the Inland Empire now because our unemployment rate is getting down there, there is starting to be more competition for jobs and that is ultimately what raises wages," Husing said.
Loma Linda University Health institutes $13 an hour 'living wage'