San Francisco Chronicle
Anna Marie Hibble
Thanks to a 60% voter approval rate, SF passed Proposition L in 2003. This provision requires that the city enforce an increase in the minimum wage every year that correlates with inflation. That means, if you want to get down to dollars and cents, that this New Year’s Day, SF’s hourly minimum wage will rise from $9.92 to $10.24.
Compare this wage to that of the state and you may see San Francisco workers as lucky: California’s legal minimum wage is $8 an hour. Now compare it to the federal minimum of $7.25. Luckier still! But people can look at this disparity in two ways. First, you can see it as a burden to business owners: Businesses in this city already pay a premium on their employees, not just the federal and state payroll taxes, but if they have enough employees, they must also offer health benefits. We can’t be too surprised then if opponents of the increasing minimum wage point to already over-taxed businesses struggling in the dull economy. There’s also the argument that such inflating minimum wage forces businesses to enact hiring freezes, a real danger when unemployment stands at a still high 8.1%.
On the other side of the coin is the person who sees money in the pockets of SF workers as good practice. In a statement that straddles both socialism and former President Reagan’s “Trickle Down” economics, Karl Kramer, campaign co-director of the SF Living Wage Coalition, told the Examiner that “When workers have more money in their pockets, they spend it in the local economy, so we see more job growth.”
Before you take a side, you might want to add in the fact that, if working full time, a San Francisco employee making $10.24 an hour will amass a yearly salary of roughly $21,000. True, the 2011 poverty level was set by the U.S. Census Bureau at $22,350 (total yearly income) for a family of four, but that’s probably not a family of four trying to live in San Francisco.