Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Letter to the Editor Re: Raising the Minimum Wage in San Diego

To the Editor:

As a small business owner, I have been following the minimum wage debate closely.  Currently the jobs I provide are not minimum wage, but if Todd Gloria's proposal passes, they will be.

It has always been my understanding that minimum wage is for low skilled jobs that any healthy person can do.  Naturally, these jobs attract people who are new to the labor force, mainly young people still in school. Todd Gloria and David Alvarez are implying that many minimum wage earners are heads of households in order to gain support for the proposal.

I decided to look at the data from the Policy Institute here. The introduction to the Policy Brief  includes a statement that really shocked me:
"U.S. Census data collects information only on total wages earned, not the hourly rate at which they are paid. So, for example, a worker earning $16 an hour but who only works 20 hours a week will earn the same total wages as a near-minimum wage worker earning $8 an hour who works 40 hours a week. The consequence is that it is likely the case that our analysis, as well
as others, over states the overall number of workers in this category..."
Looking at the data, I was able to determine that of the total 255,713 people in San Diego identified as "low wage earners", 17% have NOT completed high school, 23% have completed ONLY high school, and 30% have completed SOME college. These numbers add up to 70% of "low wage earners" who have not completed their education.  This supports Jerry Sanders and the Chamber's idea that education is the key to a livable wage.

This study does not support the case for increasing the minimum wage to such a high level, and in fact, calls for more study.

As icing on the cake, I read in the U-T that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that San Diego workers make an average of 12% more per hour than people in the same position in other states.

Carol Holland
Owner and Director, Visiting Angels of La Jolla


  1. Hmmm, I've always been from the school of thought that we San Diegans get paid in sunshine dollars. I know people doing my job in NorCal, get paid up to 30% more for the same work. Maybe you are thinking of low wage earning states such as Oklahoma or Alabama when you are making comparisons. Still, 12% more would be correct since the cost of living is considerably more here than "other states."
    Skyline, San Diego

  2. Perhaps, in the future, when planning your budget, you might want to include a cost of living adjustment (COLA) so you will be prepared for such proposals. Time does not stand still for low income wage earners. Their food, utilities, rent, clothing, etc. go up in price the same as those earning a higher income. It would be nice if we could all keep up with the cost of living.

  3. We all use numbers (and sometimes even twist them to our own devises) to make what we want seem reasonable. We ignore the "facts" that don't suit our wants and stress those that seem to support our point. What Ms Holland ignors is that since the last minimum wage increase in 2009, it has lost 5.8% to inflation. When I was putting myself through college at minimum wage jobs, every dollar was critical and a 5.6% reduction would be very painful. So even for those who are young and getting their education, a decent minimum wage helpful.
    Let's not play with numbers but instead do what is right for low-wage employees.


Thank you for your comment.