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Categories: News

S.F. Now has the Highest Minimum Wage in the Country

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On Sunday, July 1, minimum-wage employees in San Francisco got a little boost in the form of a $1 raise. It’s the last step in a multi-year plan to raise the earnings of the city’s lowest-income workers, after voters overwhelmingly passed measure Proposition J in 2014, mandating that S.F. raise the bar over a span of several years.

The last increase was from $13 to $14 in July of last year.

City Administrator Naomi Kelly says San Francisco is the one of the first cities in the nation to reach the $15 milestone. Emeryville, across the Bay, has already followed suit, making the same raise on July 1. Berkeley is set to do the same in October. And other cities are close on our heels; state lawmakers are working to increase California’s minimum wage to $15 by 2022.

“Those who say we have to choose between economic growth and fair pay are wrong,” Kelly said in a statement. “We in San Francisco have proven that these elements aren’t exclusive of each other and, in fact, they compliment each other.”

San Francisco may be ahead of the rest of the country with its latest attempt to raise up the working class, but the challenges minimum wage earners face in this city can sadly not be solved by even $15 an hour. Employees that work full time at that rate still only draw in $31,200 annually, before taxes. As we’ve previously reported, the threshold to qualify for “low income” assistance now stands at $117,400 for a family of four in San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo Counties, based on a new report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Even if two parents worked full time in S.F. at minimum-wage jobs, they’d barely reach half that amount.

But the latest increase does give people a fighting chance, and S.F.’s economy hasn’t been this good in decades. Our city budget reached a whopping $11 billion this year, and unemployment rates from April were at 2.1 percent, the lowest since 1990.

Now that we’ve reached $15, minimum wage won’t increase by such leaps and bounds going forward. It reached the goal voters put forth in 2014, and from now on will only rise a small percentage each year.

Until, that is, someone down the line drafts another ballot measure demanding it catch up to the times.

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Nuala Sawyer Bishari

Nuala Sawyer Bishari is the News Editor at SF Weekly. You can reach her at (415)-359-2644 or nsawyer@sfweekly.com. Follow her on Twitter at @TheBestNuala.

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