Cost to Hire Employees in California in 2024

Cost to Hire Employees in California in 2024

Step 1: Calculate the cost of hiring employees

  • Start by determining your employee’s gross wages. This is the initial amount you agreed to pay your employee before taxes and benefits. Remember, in California, the minimum wage is $14 per hour for businesses with 25 employees or less, and $15 per hour for those with more than 25 employees.
  • Expert tip: Keep track of the hours your employee works. Having a reliable time tracking software or application can make this task easier and it’s fundamental for a precise calculation of labor costs. This will give you accurate data of worked hours per week and across the year.

Step 2: Take into account payroll taxes

  • Consider the total cost of hiring an employee in California, not just their salary. It’s generally around 1.25 to 1.4 times the salary.
  • Calculate mandatory payroll taxes. You’re liable for 6.2% Social Security tax, 1.45% Medicare tax, and depending on eligibility, up to 0.6% Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA).
  • Don’t forget the state unemployment tax. Rates vary depending on your business and location.
  • Keep in mind that California has higher payroll taxes compared to other states.
  • Since tax laws change, always stay updated to avoid fines or penalties.

Step 3: Calculate the cost of an hourly worker

  • Tip: Make sure you have the accurate rate per hour.
  • Expert Tip: Use a reliable timesheet app to track hours worked efficiently.
  • Tip: Don’t forget to adjust for days off.
  • Tip: Break down overhead into small categories like property taxes, benefit costs, utilities, insurance, and equipment for accuracy.
  • Tip: Be careful not to miss any overhead costs.
  • Remember: This cost includes everything, not just wages. It’s key when considering hiring more staff or determining pricing strategies.

Step 4: Estimate annual benefits expenses: Cost to Hire Employees

  • Begin by estimating the salary of the employee. Remember that benefits usually account for about 30 percent of an employee’s salary.
  • Consider the specific benefits your company provides. Common benefits include health insurance, workers’ compensation, disability insurance, paid leave, and retirement savings.
  • Keep in mind that the cost of health insurance can significantly vary based on the size of your organization. On average, companies pay between $5,000 and $12,000 per employee, per year for health insurance.
  • Don’t forget about payroll taxes which include labor cost taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes, and both state and federal unemployment taxes. The rate will depend on California’s current rates.
  • Utilize online calculators to help estimate the cost of payroll taxes per employee.
  • Always account for any potential changes in benefits costs, as these can have a big impact on your estimate.

Step 5: Make assumptions about employee morale, productivity and turnover rates

  1. Consider the cost: Before you hire, consider the total cost involved. You have to pay for recruitment, post-job vacancies, and compensation packages. Remember also the unique financial stipulations in California, such as extended family leave and increasing minimum wage.
  2. Remember the turnover cost: Data shows that, on average, a $10 an hour employee can end up costing a company close to $4,000 in turnover costs. Hence, hiring and letting go of staff frequently can quickly pile up expenses.
  3. Anticipate profit and loss: It’s important to assess how much the new employee would contribute to the company revenue. On one hand, they possess skills that could steer profit, yet on the other hand, the associated costs could hit the bottom line hard.
  4. Familiarize yourself with taxes: In California, both the employer and employees pay taxes. As an employer, you pay payroll-related taxes and withhold some from the employee’s pay.
  5. Create a balanced team: Creating a diverse and rich skill set team is important for morale. Hiring highly educated, motivated, and loyal staff members not only reduces turnover rates but also increases productivity.
  6. Factor in Hiring costs: Hiring in California involves expenses beyond the obvious. For instance , while promoting job vacancies, be prepared to cater to high costs of recruiting and onboarding new employees. This could include interview expenses or even costs involved in the probation period.
  7. Monitor your business growth: Lastly, note that as your business expands, the costs of hiring may exponentially rise. Hence, maintain a flexible budget and stay prepared for unexpected costs.

Step 6: Calculate the cost of storage facilities and equipment: Cost to Hire Employees

  • Expert tip: Use storage optimization software to reduce your space requirements.
  • Expert tip: Get quotes from multiple providers for comparison.
  • Expert tip: Consider second-hand or leased equipment to save costs.
  • Expert tip: Regular cost reassessment can help identify savings opportunities.

Factors Influencing How Much Does it Cost to Hire Employees in California in 2023.

1. County of Residence: Cost to Hire Employees

  • Costs of hiring in California can vary greatly depending on the county of residence.
  • High-cost areas like San Francisco can mean more overheads in terms of higher salaries and benefits to match the high cost of living.
  • Lower-cost counties may offer savings for your business, as salaries might not need to be as high.
  • Beyond salaries, taxes can also fluctuate across counties. There’s Federal and State income tax, Medicare tax, Social Security tax, and the State Disability Insurance Tax in California. Each has different obligations for employers.

2. Type of Business: Cost to Hire Employees

The type of business you operate significantly affects the cost of hiring employees in California. A few examples include:

  • If you run an automobile manufacturer, expect operating costs to be about 33% higher than the national average due to higher wages for skilled employees and elevated electricity costs.
  • A computer-programming firm? Brace yourself for operational expenses about 18% higher than average due to high wages for skilled employees.
  • Operating a machinist shop could see you facing cost increases of about 16% because of higher wages and electricity costs.
  • Accounting firms typically encounter 15% higher costs associating with higher wages for skilled employees.

Remember, these operational cost increases directly impact the cost of hiring employees. So it’s vital to crunch the numbers before expanding your team, considering wages, benefits, recruitment and training, payroll-related taxes, and employee-paid taxes.

3. Number of Employees: Cost to Hire Employees

Hiring more employees can escalate your operational costs in California due to steep overheads and legislations. These costs, going beyond basic wages, pile up relative to the quantity of staff you hire.

  • A larger workforce translates into higher annual overhead per employee, accounting for insurance, utilities, and property tax.
  • Payroll-based costs such as employee labor, taxes, and benefits also inflate proportionately.
  • Regional laws worsen this, amplifying labor costs by enforcing benefits like family leave and paid sick leave, which make up to 31.7% of an employee’s total cost.
  • Lastly, higher staff numbers mean more taxes withheld from wages, further elevating monetary implications.

4. Wage Calculation Method (Cost to Hire Employees)

In California, calculating wages can significantly impact the overall cost of hiring employees. Understanding these computations can save you unnecessary expenses and surprises down the line.

  • Your employees’ wages are determined by multiplying their hourly rate by the annual hours worked.
  • Calculate 0.6% of the employee labor cost for the Annual FUTA Tax Credit, 6.2% for the Annual Social Security Tax, 1.45% for the Annual Medicare Tax, and the specific State Tax % for the Annual State Unemployment Tax.
  • Don’t forget about California specific taxes, like the State Disability Insurance withholding rate (1.0% in 2012), and the Employment Training Tax (0.1% in 2012).
  • For example, if an employee earns $20/hour and works full time (40 hours a week for 52 weeks), their labor cost is $41,600. Additional payroll taxes (using the rates provided) would sum up to $4,797.36.

5. Taxes and Fees (Cost to Hire Employees)

In California, various taxes affect the cost of hiring employees. These include:

  • Social Security, where you, as an employer, contribute 6.2% of an employee’s taxable wages up to $132,900.
  • Medicare, requiring a 1.45% contribution on all wages.
  • Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA), typically 3% on the first $7,000 of wages.
  • State Unemployment Tax (SUTA), generally 1.5-8.2% on the wage base of $7,000.

Other key fees include:

  • The Employment Training Tax (0.1% on first $7,000 of wages), and
  • The California Personal Income Tax and Federal Income Tax, the rates for which vary.

These costs make hiring in California quite expensive relative to other US states.

6. Employee Benefits:

Employee benefits have a significant impact on the cost of hiring in California. For example, 401(k) matches and health insurance can increase the overall cost per employee.

Beyond wages, consider the following: Cost to Hire Employees

  • Health insurance: It covers medical expenses, increasing hiring costs.
  • 401(k) matching: It’s an added expense as employers match employee contributions to the retirement fund.
  • Family and sick leave: The extra payment for leaves can elevate hiring costs.
  • Payroll taxes: Including Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment taxes, these further inflate the cost of hiring.

Thus, employers should carefully consider these factors before recruiting talent in the state.

7. Training Costs (Cost to Hire Employees)

Training costs can significantly increase your overall hiring expenses in California. It’s key to track and manage these expenses as they can mount up quickly.

Here’s what you need to consider:

  • The first cost is directly related to the training process. This can range from online courses to hands-on workshops.
  • Secondly, California implements an Employment Training Tax (ETT), requiring businesses to pay 0.1% on the first $7,000 in compensation to each worker every year.
  • Finally, remember that taking a new hire away from their job for training also costs in lost productivity.

Keeping a keen eye on these aspects can help ensure that training doesn’t inflate your hiring costs.

8. Operations Costs (Cost to Hire Employees)

Operating costs in California significantly impact the cost of hiring employees due to the state’s high cost-of-living and regulatory mandates. These factors result in higher than average labor costs for businesses.

Here are the top ways operations costs can influence hiring costs:

  • Wage premiums: You’ll probably have to pay your skilled employees significantly more than the national average.
  • Elevated energy costs: If your business heavily relies on energy, prepare for higher electricity bills.
  • Costly business taxes: With business taxes 22% higher than the national average, this impacts your bottom line.
  • Steeper legal costs: Factor in a 15% higher legal cost above the national average.
  • High minimum wage: California has the third-highest minimum wage, which could affect your payroll.

Estimating the Cost of Hiring Employees in California

Hey there, California entrepreneur! Ready to expand your squad? Hiring new employees involves more than their base salary or wage. Here’s a quick guide on estimating the real cost of hiring in the Golden State!


  1. Determine Base Salary: Decide your new team member’s salary or hourly wage.
  2. Calculate Payroll Taxes: Add Social Security, Medicare, and other payroll-related taxes.
  3. Consider Recruitment and Training: Don’t forget, seeking out candidates and getting them up-to-speed isn’t free.
  4. Factor in Benefits: Does your company provide health care, paid leave, or other perks?

Expert tip: Use tools like Oyster’s Employment Cost Calculator for a rough estimate. Remember, these are approximations and should not be treated as actual costs!

Remember, whenever you hire, keep an eye on balance between affordability and attracting top talent.

Tips for Hiring Employees in California: Cost to Hire Employees

1. Identify the Minimum Wage for Employees in California

The current minimum wage in California is a key factor you need to consider when hiring a new employee there. Here’s how it works:

  • Employers shoulder Medicare taxes of 1.45% applied to an employee’s entire wage.
  • The Social Security tax is set at 6.2% on the first $132,900 of an employee’s earnings, with a maximum cap of $8,239.80.
  • Other taxes like Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), California State Unemployment Insurance (SUI), and California Employment Training Tax (ETT) are only applied to the first $7,000 of an employee’s earnings.

For example, if you hire a fitness instructor at the minimum wage for 10 hours a week, you’d pay about 10% in taxes on their wages.

2. Consider Potential Benefit Costs for Employees: Cost to Hire Employees

Being an employer in California implies considering many factors and costs involved when hiring new employees. Recognizing potential benefit costs is key in your fiscal approach. Here’s a quick rundown for you:

  • Payroll taxes, including the employer share of Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), and State Unemployment Tax Act (SUTA)
  • Insurance coverage, such as workers’ compensation and other specific insurance based on the job role
  • Employee benefits like health insurance and retirement savings plans
  • Mandatory federal or state leaves
  • Other benefits such as 401k matching and family leaves.

Remember, these costs are beyond just salary and wages. Make sure to factor it all.

3. Look at the Required Employer Contributions for Unemployment Insurance: Cost to Hire Employees

As a business owner in California, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of understanding employer contributions for unemployment insurance. These funds, which you contribute as the employer, provide temporary support to employees who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. This guide will walk you through the steps of correctly calculating these contributions.

  • Start by figuring out your Unemployment Insurance (UI) rate. As a new employer, you’re typically looking at 3.4% on the first $7,000 of each employee’s wages annually. As your business establishes history, the rate may change and is updated every December.
  • Calculate the Employment Training Tax (ETT). This is an additional 0.1% on the first $7,000 of each employee’s wages per year. This fund helps to train employees in targeted industries.

Expert Tip: While 0.1% may seem small, it’s crucial to remember these taxes when creating your annual budget.

Remember to also budget for payroll taxes. These include Social Security, Medicare, Federal Unemployment, and California Unemployment. These rates vary, so always consult with a tax professional to ensure accuracy.

Expert Tip: Making mistakes in payroll can lead to penalties. Consider using a payroll service to ensure proper withholdings.

4. Analyze the Costs of Employee Insurance: Cost to Hire Employees

Understanding the costs of employee insurance is crucial when hiring in California, as it significantly impacts your business’s budget. Having a handle on these costs allows you to offer competitive packages, manage expenses, and forecast growth.

When budgeting, consider these potential insurance costs:

  • Factor in health insurance, which, according to a 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation study, can range from $5,000 to $12,000 per employee annually.
  • Expect workers’ compensation insurance, disability insurance, and paid leave costs.
  • Remember that companies with more than 50 full-time employees must offer a company health plan or pay an ACA mandated penalty.
  • Lastly, consider the fact that benefits account for approximately 31.7% of an employee’s overall cost.

5. Review the Minimum Required Wage Withholding: Cost to Hire Employees

Wage withholding is essentially money that your company holds back from your employees’ wages for tax purposes. Here’s a quick rundown for reviewing it in California:

  1. Understand that workers with an income exceeding $200,000 annually may be subject to an additional Medicare tax of 0.9%.
  2. Withholding this tax is compulsory irrespective of other sources of income or filing status.
  3. If your employee owes more than what’s withheld, they can make estimated tax payments or request additional income tax withholding via Form W-4.
  4. Always ensure that your review includes all forms of wages – including meals, lodging, checks, and cash payments.
  5. Keep in mind there is no taxable wage limit in California.

Remember: When in doubt, referring to the California Employer’s Guide is always a smart move.

6. Consider the Benefits of an Internal Payroll System: Cost to Hire Employees

Stepping up your game with an internal payroll management system can significantly streamline your hiring process in California. As an affordable and efficient alternative, let’s explore why it’s catching on among savvy businesses.

  • Trustworthy system
  • Accurate complication and submission of taxes
  • Ease of use
  • Affordable prices
  • Timely payments

7. Take Advantage of the State’s Streamlined Employer Registration Process: Cost to Hire Employees

California’s streamlined employer registration process simplifies the hiring process, minimizes costs, and maximizes profitability. By using e-Services for Business, you can effortlessly manage payroll taxes. To get started:

  • Log in or enroll and ensure you’ve checked all required filings and their due dates to avoid penalties.
  • Leverage the Employment Training Tax (ETT) to bolster your workforce’s skills, helping your business stay competitive.
  • Make use of online resources like Forms and Publications, and stay updated with the latest trends via the Employer News and Updates section.

Tip: Always compute real and actual costs before hiring new employees to maintain financial stability. Keep a positive balance in your Unemployment Insurance (UI) reserve account to continuously contribute to ETT.

Conclusion: Is Hiring in California Right for Your Business?

In conclusion, hiring in California could be ideal for your business if you’re prepared to handle the costs. It’s about navigating:

  • Employee wages, benefits and related taxes.
  • Recruitment expeditions, time to hire data, and training costs.

Yet, with opportunities in booming sectors like technology, healthcare, and entertainment, the rewards could outweigh the concerns. Use outsourcing services for cost efficiency. As business expert, Maithili Mokashi advised, plan carefully and consider the full financial impact before you set out to hire.


Ryan has worked in staffing for the last eight years. Two years ago, he took the leap to develop a firm whose mission was to elevate staffing to a professional service that treats our candidates as well as we treat our clients. He is very proud of his team and constantly seeks to celebrate their victories together while quietly learning from their losses. 

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