Minimum Wage Raise in San Jose?

A student-organized push to raise the minimum wage in San Jose looks like it has a chance to make its way on the ballot.

Roughly 35,000 signatures were reportedly submitted Wednesday by a group led by San Jose State students. Those signatures will need to be verified by the county Registrar of Voters.

Minimum wage in California is currently $8 and hour. If the initiative goes to voters and passes, the new minimum would be $10 in San Jose with adjustments for inflation each year.

An interesting note in the Mercury News’ article on the initiative effort is the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce’s leery position to publicly oppose the measure. Paying employees more per hour would certainly cut into the bottom line for small businesses, but it’s a slippery political slope to oppose a raise for the least-compensated workers in one of the most expensive places to live in the county—almost no one can claim $8 an hour is enough to survive in Silicon Valley.

“Anything that’s going to raise the cost of doing business in the city of San Jose is probably a bad idea,” Chamber president Matt Mahood told the paper. “It may have some unintended consequences.”

Publicly opposing minimum wage could also have some unintended consequences, like turning public opinion against the chamber.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. There are good arguments for raising the minimum wage and good arguments for keeping it at eight bucks an hour. Undoubtedly it will hurt some small businesses, but I think that raising the minimum wage will be better for San Jose in the long-run.

  2. What a wonderful thing for students at SJSU to do as a tribute to Terry Christensen who is retiring this year!

    These students are a great asset to San Jose State, and we all should be proud of them.  Interesting that the average student at San Jose State has no clue to who the student body president is, and considering he has spent two years jet setting to Vienna while these students are fighting for good paying jobs for their colleagues, I wonder if there should be a minimum intelligence requirement to be the student body president at SJSU.  Obviously the current student president is as out of touch as Yuri Andropov was in the USSR.  Good to hear that there students who care, while their president is busy being a nothing.

    • Obviously these students are not business or econ majors. Instead they follow the marxist ideologies rampant in the sociology departments. These students would have better off first trying to operate a business, any business, and pay their employees 10/hr and see how long they can survive as a business entity doing so.

      Instead of creating jobs, businesses will close or layoff employees rather than risk fiscal ruin by this misguided effort. SF is the most business unfriendly city in the state and it has lost thousands of jobs in the past 10 years because of misguided social legislation.

      What’s next on the list? Providing a living wage for the bums in St. James Park?

      • I don’t think you have a correct understanding of marxism. Your inflammatory rhetoric makes it a lot difficult for people who might agree with you to take you seriously.

  3. NOT!!  You students do not even work. Sorry!  But you can take time out of class to get votes.  How many are even registered?  Get a dregee then get a job.

  4. The never-answered question about the “minimum wage” is:

    “Why not raise the minimum wage to $12.50 per hour?”

    Or, $32.95 per hour?

    Or, $125 per hour?

    Or $875 per hour?

    Or, $450,000 per hour?

    Or you’re a really good, thoughtful, compassionate liberal person concerned about social justice, isn’t a $450,000 per hour minimum wage more compassionate than a $10 per hour minimun wage?

    The only answer I ever get from the uber-compassionate about a $125 minumum wage is:

    “Well, that would be absurd”.

    • It’s not intellectually inconsistent to support a $10 minimum wage and not support a $32.95 minimum wage, just as it’s not inconsistent to support the current $8 but not support a $3 minimum wage. $32.95 is more “compassionate” than $10, and $3 allows small business owners to hire more people than they can on $10 an hour, but both of those wages ARE absurd. The key is to find a minimum wage that is both beneficial to small business and allows working people to make an affordable living, which means that we need to have a thoughtful, mature dialogue about what wages work and what wages don’t work.

      • > which means that we need to have a thoughtful, mature dialogue about what wages work and what wages don’t work.

        So, what is your mature Marxist populist judgement of what is the correct minimum wage?

        What if some other Marxist populist decides that you are a tool of big business and offers workers a higher minimum wage?

        How do thoughtful, mature grown-ups decide which Marxist populist demagogue is correct?

      • All jobs can not provide a “Living wage”. Some jobs require less skill and thus people make less money. When I started working @14 years old the minimum wage in Florida was $4.75 (1997),by 16 I was working at another job paying 6.50 per hour, by 18 I had developed the work experience to work for $12+ commission. After paying my way through college with the hope of making more than 50k(living wage in florida) a year I worked 2 jobs building the work experience to move into the tech industry.And now I go on forums and tell people that if you are hoping for minimum wage to be a living wage you probably will never live a comfortable life.

        • I’m sorry, but I don’t quite understand your position. A living wage is defined as the amount of money required to meet basic needs. Are you saying that it’s unrealistic that everyone earns a living wage?

  5. If I’ve got the math right, the raise these students are seeking works out to a 25% pay increase. Now, given that they are students of our academically inferior state system, it’s not surprising that these young people are foolish enough to expect the effect of this raise to be 25% more cash in the pockets of 100% of the city’s current minimum wage earners. You see, that’s they way economics works as taught in the liberal asylums we call today’s state colleges.

    But then there is hard reality, out there in the everyday world of narrow margins, cause and effect and, most importantly, unintended consequences. A raise in the minimum wage is going to cost some people their jobs, interfere with the expansion of the job market, and hurt many businesses. The burger stand that could absorb 4 times $8/hr will now have to make do with 3 times $10/hr; the landscape contractor who thought the timing was right to hire an additional crew will change his mind; the small bookstore that survives by the quality of its service will struggle to maintain adequate staffing.

    The one and only thing a raise in the minimum wage will do is to make a bunch of college students feel good about themselves. It will not turn the minimum wage into the livable salary it was never intended to be; it will not generate the new revenues that employers would require to offset the increased cost of doing business; and it certainly will not make the suddenly unemployed 8/hr worker happy for his former coworkers good fortune.

    In other words, this idea is so bad for San Jose that I’m stunned it didn’t originate in council chambers.

  6. I think that with a fragile economy that is gradually picking itself up and out of a recession, that anything that may propose a barrier to job creation should be placed on hold until the unemployment rate drops to a healthy level. A result of a minimum wage increase may slow the decline of unemployment.

  7. Between this the 25 cent bag fee coming up the only person visiting stores in San Jose will the employees. Oh wait unlike Government where they just print money these places need to make money. LMAO now as I don’t see that really happening?

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