San Jose Considers Regional Approach to Minimum Wage Hike

A few years after upping the minimum wage to the double-digits, San Jose will consider raising it again.

Only this time, the city plans to make the wage hike a regional effort, joining with other Santa Clara County cities in a push to raise the hourly minimum to $15. This Tuesday, the City Council will vote on whether to pay a consultant to study the regional impact of a minimum wage hike, sharing the cost with other South Bay cities.

As housing costs outpace income growth in Silicon Valley, policymakers in several cities have called for citywide minimum wage raises. Palo Alto and Santa Clara upped the hourly minimum pay to $11. Mountain View adopted a $10.30 minimum last fall, allowing for annual inflation increases.

San Jose voters in 2012 approved a $10 minimum wage with annual cost of living increases. The statewide minimum is on track to hit $10 in January.

On the state level, a Senate bill to raise the minimum wage to $11 by 2016 and $13 the year after died in the Assembly. But unions plan to place an initiative on the 2016 ballot that would up the minimum wage by a dollar a year to $15 by 2021.

On Friday, the local Cities Association Board—comprising mayors and council members from 15 South Bay cities—voted to support a regional minimum wage. Now, San Jose will find an independent consultant to study the long-term economic impacts of increasing the minimum wage.

Critics of a wage hike, including Councilman Johnny Khamis, argue that raising the pay floor would hurt small businesses and kill jobs and end up hurting those it intends to help.

Mayor Sam Liccardo opposed the local minimum wage increase in 2012 but has backed this latest regional effort.

“I am happy to see this proposal moving forward on a regional basis,” Councilman Chappie Jones said in a prepared statement last week. “Our goal is to improve the quality of life for the hard-working families of Santa Clara County."

But as it stands, the proposal includes a glaring exception that’s drawn criticism from community groups. In the memo up for consideration this week, Liccardo calls for: “An exemption for organizations employing persons in the ‘hard-to-employ’ such as parolees, homeless and emancipated foster youth …”

Shaun Cartwright, a court-appointed advocate for former foster youth, called that idea flawed and divisive for carving out the most vulnerable people.

“These are marginalized and vulnerable populations who could need these increased wages the most,” she wrote, “and we have many examples of people moving beyond the stereotypes who make valuable contributions to our communities.”

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for September 15, 2015:

  • San Jose is drumming up a strategy to deal with the influx of visitors as host of the Super Bowl 50 this coming February. As the city prepares to clean its streets and draw on police and other public services, council members Raul Peralez, Don Rocha and Ash Kalra said the city should consider the rights of the homeless and victims of human trafficking. “As part of the effort to beautify and clean the city, it is critical that San Jose maintain the basic civil rights of our homeless population and engage residents with dignity and compassion,” Peralez, Rocha and Kalra wrote. “Any efforts to relocate residents to modify existing noticing requirements for encampments and personal property should be brought to the attention of the full City Council.” Meanwhile, the city should educate local hotels, businesses and the public to take a stand against human trafficking, they added.
  • The council will finally vote on an emergency ordinance that would protect mobile home parks from development until the city comes up with a permanent policy to protect tenants.
  • The San Jose Police Department will update its policy on elder abuse at the direction of Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury. Jurors found that the SJPD duty manual referred to the county’s child abuse protocol instead of a policy specifically for elder and dependent adult abuse. “This is the first time a civil grand jury has addressed deficient law enforcement policy in this depth,” said elder advocate Linda Kincaid, whose partner’s complaint prompted the grand jury investigation. “We hope to encourage SJPD to develop an appropriate policy on abuse of elders and dependent adults. Then we can take that policy across the country.”

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. What’s next-$100 dollars and hour to flip burgers or dig a ditch?

    The (Communist inspired) Regional plan has inherent discrimatory proviosions such as Mayor Liccardo’s position:

    “An exemption for organizations employing persons in the ‘hard-to-employ’ such as parolees, homeless and emancipated foster youth …”

    Council is making living in the Bay area, especially San Jose an “entitlement.”

    Freehousing, food, services to vagrants and illegl aliens; an upcoming Communist inspired “Rent Control Ordinance,” making sure vagrants and illegal aliens have free hotel rooms as Super Bowl 50 nears are just a few snippets of why San Jose should be in all reality, be renamed “Slum Jose.”

    Those that cannot afford to live here-move to the Central Valley or beyond. Better yet, become more valuable to society.

    David S. Wall

    • > What’s next-$100 dollars and hour to flip burgers or dig a ditch?

      I have tried mightily, but I have never been able to get a Progressive to explain if I am more compassionate if I wish for unemployables to be unemployed at $200 per hour rather than at $100 per hour.

      Shouldn’t I go to a higher level of heaven if I wish harder for better things to happen?

  2. Implement e-verify for jobs, drivers licenses and rental agreements, and defund sanctuary cities. Wages will increase dramatically without new minimums.

    • Totally agree. This is saying that illegal immigration has a supply/demand impact reflected in lower wages at least at the lower skill levels. The e-verify requirements for businesses need to be actively enforced with much more significant penalties on those businesses which fail to adequately check documents or hide non-compliance. Otherwise it won’t work. All for deportation & we should keep it up, but, we’ve seen, with repeated returnees, it is isn’t that effective.

  3. Robert Barro, professor of economics at Harvard University

    “The minimum wage prohibits people from working if their productivity falls short of the stated level. The overall consequences for economic efficiency are adverse and show up especially as reduced levels of employment for low productivity workers. Some workers gain from an increased minimum, notably the more able, who can retain and find the higher wage jobs. However, the overall consequences for income distribution are adverse because the increased joblessness tends to be concentrated among the least advantaged persons, notably minority teenagers. If the ratio of the minimum wage to the average wage is small — as currently in the U.S. — then a rise in the minimum has small effects on aggregate employment and overall income distribution, but there is no reason to think that the net effects are positive. Thus, the previously strong consensus of economists in opposition to the minimum wage remains correct, and the minimum-wage law ought to be abolished.”

    • As it is written/quoted, that last sentence is confusing. If he’s saying that there’s a “strong consensus of economists” opposing minimum wage, he must be living in some sort of unlit cloakroom there at Harvard. Economists are all over the board on this. If anything, I’d say there’re more saying the minimum wage would have a net zero or even a beneficial impact on the economy & the government deficit (as long as the legislatures don’t spend any or all savings). Take a look at Wikipedia on this, which notes multiple sources with multiple opinions & conclusions.

  4. To every one of you who, as high schoolers or college kids, flipped burgers, swept floors, stocked shelves, or washed cars for a minimum wage that enabled you to do little more than pay for gas and car insurance, welcome to the politics of identity. Apparently in the decades since our country was overrun by unskilled and undocumented workers the labor value of the menial jobs that were once the domain of unskilled young citizens has been elevated into what was once called “a man’s wage.” What elevated the labor value had nothing to do with the jobs themselves and everything to do with the political identity of the people doing them. When the workers were simply kids of all races, creeds, and colors — young people whose politics would be influenced elsewhere, our politicians had no real reason to court them. But now that the workers are Democrats-in-waiting, our politicians are eager to spend as much of other people’s money as it takes to lock-in these dullards as lifelong supporters of the Democratic Party. I wonder who’ll they’ll blame (in two languages) when the jobs evaporate?

    Start the countdown to McRobots people… goodbye bilingual, hello binary.

  5. I don’t understand this minimum wage concept. As good socialist should we not all have our wage’s cut to the minimum there by sharing the misery, and redistributing the wealth to those with little talent or ambition?

    As wages drop no one will be able to pay for that very expensive housing thereby dropping the cost and increasing the number of affordable unites we are all demanding. No demand= lower cost = reverse capitalism.

    Now someone please nominate me for a Nobel Peace Prize in Marxist Economics, there is a really mansion in Chicago
    I want to buy next year!

  6. Evidently, politicians and their constituents have never taken Economics 101. Minimum wage is an artificial floor on wages and is only meant for low skilled entry-level workers. YOU’RE supposed to gain experience and training to get beyond minimum wage.

  7. The $1.60 minimum wage in 1968 is equivalent to ~$11 today. That was a federal minimum, covering places including Kansas & the Dakotas.
    Rather than fight a regional $11/hr. & at the least tied to a CPI, which will surely pass, the call to address the complaints here should be for exemptions such as a lower minimum for employees under 18 years old and/or an exemption for business less than 10 employees; perhaps a lower wage for 3-6 months to cover training.
    It would follow that those decrying any & all government intervention in the market would have been against the Emancipation Proclamation! For God’s sake, we live in a (small D) democratic society, based on theoretically agreed community values. If you can’t pay your employees a decent, livable, wage, then you shouldn’t be running that business.

  8. -“Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive.” William F. Buckley

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *