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About this blog: I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to the area in 1963 when I started graduate school at Stanford. Nancy and I were married in 1977 and we lived for nearly 30 years in the Duveneck school area. Our children went to Paly. We moved ...  (More)

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Letter to Council: I Support Minimum Wage Increase Exploration

Uploaded: Feb 6, 2015
I support the exploration of increasing the minimum wage in Palo Alto suggested by councilmembers Berman, Burt, DuBois and Wolbach.

CCSCE has just finished a two year HUD grant Regional Prosperity Strategy for the Bay Area looking at upward mobility for low and moderate wage workers. Key findings include the disappointing facts that 1) wages for low and middle wage workers have lagged behind inflation since 2001 despite strong recent job growth and 2) the future will bring more workers in traditional low wage occupations such as in food service and hospitality.

I appreciate the careful approach outlined in the memo of developing standards. I am happy to volunteer any help I can offer and mobilize others who study these trends and issues.

One approach is to link the minimum wage to trends in average or median wages in our area. This honors one of the original purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act that established a minimum wage in order to provide that the lowest paid workers are not left behind as the overall economy prospers. Keeping pace with inflation is an alternate approach but in most times will not produce as high a minimum as keeping pace with average wage gains.

It is true as with many public policies that everyone does not gain. Although there is conflicting evidence on the amount of potential job losses, some will occur. As with most policy decisions, elected officials strive to find the greater good.

Best of luck and you will find many colleagues in other cities in the region with experience to share.

FOR BLOG READERS

This is not the place to debate whether we should have a minimum wage. The council proposal is to explore increasing the wage. Town Square has an active blog where readers are able to debate whether having a minimum wage is good policy.

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