SF becomes first US city to top $10 minimum wage

by
December 12, 2011

By Beth Duff-Brown, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO—David Frias works two minimum-wage jobs to squeak by in one of the most expensive cities in America.

Come New Year’s Day, he’ll have a few more coins in his pocket as San Francisco makes history by becoming the first city in the nation to scale a $10 minimum wage. The city’s hourly wage for its lowest-paid workers will hit $10.24, more than $2 above the California minimum wage and nearly $3 more than the working wage set by the federal government.

It won’t put much more in Frias’ wallet. But it gives him a sense of moving on up.

“It’s a psychological boost,” said Frias, who is a 34-year-old usher at a movie theater and a security guard for a crowd control firm. “It means that I’ll have more money in my wallet to pay my bills and money to spend in the city to help the economy.”

San Franciscans passed a proposition in 2003 that requires the city to increase the minimum wage each year, using a formula tied to inflation and the cost of living. It’s just another way the progressive people of the City by the Bay have shown their support for the working-class in a locale where labor unions remain strong and housing costs are sky high.

Karl Kramer of the San Francisco Living Wage Coalition said a decent wage for a single adult without children in the city would be $15, and that doubles when you have at least one child or more. But like other advocates of better wages, he’s still pleased that San Francisco will be the first in the nation to top $10.

“It helps workers’ morale in a time of economic crisis; they feel that they’re able to tread water and get some relief from the recession,” said Kramer.

While the city is at the forefront of attempting to provide a decent living wage, most employees say it’s still not a wage to live on, that the 32-cent hike seems like peanuts. And some employers say it could lead to layoffs by small businesses already forced to pay federal, state and city payroll taxes as well as a slew of other city-mandated taxes.

To read more, visit: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2011/12/12/sf_becomes_first_us_city_to_top_10_minimum_wage/

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