News

Palo Alto looks to raise minimum wage to $15 by 2018

Council committee recommends setting minimum wage at $11 per hour next year; increasing it annually

Palo Alto joined a regional trend Tuesday when a City Council committee endorsed a minimum wage of $15 per hour starting in 2018.

The proposal, which the Policy and Services Committee unanimously approved, would transform Palo Alto from a city that has no minimum-wage law to one that would have one of the highest minimum-wage requirements in the nation.

If the full City Council goes along with the recommendation, minimum wage in Palo Alto would rise to $11 per hour on Jan. 1, 2016. It would then gradually climb to $15 by 2018 through increments that would be approved annually by the council.

By endorsing the "15 by '18" plateau, Palo Alto is following in the footsteps of its neighbor Mountain View and early adopter Seattle. In Mountain View, the minimum wage was set last year at $10.30 per hour, though more recently that city's council has been talking about adjusting it to $15 over the next three years.

The Palo Alto committee's support for a local minimum-wage ordinance was never in doubt. The city currently has no such law; employers are only bound to the state standard of $9 per hour, which is set to rise to $10 next year. Four council members -- Marc Berman, Pat Burt, Tom DuBois, Cory Wolbach -- penned a memo earlier this year urging an adoption of a local minimum-wage law. The same four members also coincidentally make up the Policy and Services Committee.

About a dozen residents, including clergy members and low-wage earners, made a case for the change early in Tuesday night's meeting and pointed out that eking out a living in Palo Alto is nearly impossible for those earning anything close to the minimum wage.

Qiao Li earns $12.81 per hour as a caretaker to a local senior, but he now believes he will need a second job just to retain his Palo Alto studio. His rent recently jumped from $800 to $1,500 a month, and living in the famously unaffordable city is becoming increasingly challenging.

"It is very, very difficult, and I don't have any quality of life at all," Li told the committee.

Lacey Lutes, who works in Palo Alto as a utilities account representative, said she had to work two minimum-wage jobs while in college to make ends meet.

"At times I had to make tough decisions between picking up another shift and working or studying and doing homework," Lutes said. "I always chose the shifts so that I can eat that night."

The proposal that the committee ultimately rallied around was far more ambitious than the one outlined by staff in a report. The proposed ordinance would have raised minimum wage to $10.30 and adjusted it annually based on the Consumer Price Index. The ordinance would follow similar laws that were adopted last year by Mountain View and Sunnyvale and in 2012 by San Jose.

But the four council members ultimately agreed to go further than this proposal, both in the near- and the long-term. Wolbach offered the most ambitious plan, one that would set the minimum wage at $11.50 in January. His colleagues didn't want to go that far and settled on $11.

Burt and Berman both stressed the importance of giving businesses adequate warning and time to prepare for the new laws.

"I support the minimum-wage increase, but I also think it's vitally important that our business community is informed as is part of the dialogue in terms of the details of it," Berman said. "People are going to have differences of opinion on it and everyone should be heard."

About 30 people attended the Tuesday night hearing, with almost everyone speaking favored a higher minimum wage.

"Find a way to get to $15 per hour sooner rather than later so that the people who are the lowest wage earners in our community can live more sustainably in our community," said Rev. Eileen Altman of First Congregational Church of Palo Alto.

Randall Jones was one of about a dozen members of the public who held up a "We need a path to $15" sign.

"I have a lot of sympathy for small-business owners," Jones said. "I want to point out, there are no retail owners who are living in their cars, no restaurant owners getting food stamps because they're not making enough money to pay for food, no small business owners living in an apartment with another family. Most business owners aren't having to get Medi-Cal to get medical care, or go without any medical care whatsoever."

But the committee agreed that rushing toward a minimum wage wouldn't be fair to local businesses.

"As much as we'd like to see these dollars in the hands of workers sooner, I really think to have a major change to businesses, even a moderate change like this financially, there should be some adequate forewarning," Burt said. "Not all (businesses) are rolling in the dough. I think it's responsible to give them at least a six-month warning."

After Wolbach's proposal to set the minimum wage at $11.50 per hour failed, DuBois made a motion to set it at $11 per hour starting Jan. 1, 2016, with annual adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index. DuBois' proposal also included a goal of $15 per hour by 2018. Staff will return to the committee no later than Oct. 1 to discuss the process for reaching this goal.

DuBois also said he'd like to see Palo Alto's minimum-wage increases considered in conjunction with similar efforts in other cities.

"I see a lot of value to match up with surrounding communities," DuBois said.

Comments

28 people like this
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2015 at 12:57 am

This is a very bad idea.


20 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 29, 2015 at 6:22 am

Should be helpful in preserving retail businesses in Palo Alto - the rising rents, rising labor costs will entice small businesses to set up in our city. Only the big chain stores can afford this.

It's always fun to spend other people's money. Another way to do this, is for the city to subsidize these workers by paying the businesses the difference between the $15 and the state minimum wage. But then these politicians wouldn't have the money to spend on their pet political causes.


8 people like this
Posted by paloaltopoor
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 29, 2015 at 7:29 am

minimum wage in palo alto should be twice that...rent for a two bedroom on ALMA street is now over 3k a month! that ALONE can't be done on less than $17.00 an hour! and that's in 2015 not 2018!


24 people like this
Posted by Maurice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2015 at 9:06 am

paloaltopoor, how many people living on Alma actually earn minimum wage? Most of Palo Alto's minimum wage jobs are taken by out-of-town folk, high school students or retirees. Minimum wage jobs are never meant to be career choices or vocations for a head of household. They are unskilled labor positions meant as temporary work. Such jobs aren't worth $15 per hour.


18 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2015 at 9:44 am

This is just the way to kill off retail and service in Palo Alto. The reality is that there will just be less minimum wage jobs in Palo Alto.

Safeway statewide has announced they are whittling down the number of employees. We will be seeing more self serve checkouts and less lanes open at all our grocery stores.

Drugstores and other minimum wage employers will do the same. We have very few fast food restaurants, but those we have will whittle down their staff and it is unlikely that we will get more of these wanting to open. Likewise Mom and Pop restaurants and stores are likely to find it hard to operate and will do with less staff too. Even the larger chains are likely to have less bus boys and other minimum wage jobs.

Gyms and places like the Winter Lodge will end up with less teenagers being employed. Expect less trash removal, etc. from these establishments.

Even local residents will start to feel it as local gardeners and house cleaners will be reduced to less frequent visits and/or less hours. Instead of a weekly visit, it may be the time they are asked to work just twice a month.

Well done, Palo Alto.


4 people like this
Posted by Downtown Worker
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 29, 2015 at 10:39 am

A higher minimum wage will help some workers, but a lot of retail workers already earn more. I hear $16-18 is what it takes to attract workers to Palo Alto nowadays, and it's still tough to find people because the commute from available housing is so long.

The bigger point is that $15 still isn't going to do much to let people like Qiao Li live in Palo Alto. The cost of living is high because we have a housing shortage on the Peninsula, and we have a housing shortage because we've spent 25 years imposing a lot of restrictions on people who want to build housing. It's not hard to figure out what's going on. Minimum wages may help a little bit, but they aren't fixing the real problem.

If you worry that new housing will lead to new traffic, cap the number of cars residents are allowed to have. I know a lot of people who live downtown who don't own a car at all; I know more couples who share one car. With RPP, we know where everyone parks and we can track cheaters. Palo Alto and Menlo Park have the jobs, the walkability, and the train stations - we are ideally suited to make a difference.

If you worry that "you can't get people out of their cars", all that means is that people won't want to rent the car-free apartments and no one will develop them. Then we've tried the experiment, seen that it failed, and we can move on.


6 people like this
Posted by sea seelam prabhakar reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 29, 2015 at 10:47 am

I support it totally.
$15/hour is needed to work and live here.

It is a smart move.

I calculated $17/hour during our Nov election discussions.

Respectfully


13 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 29, 2015 at 10:52 am

Slow Down is a registered user.

@reddy - why not make minimum wage $150/hr so they can afford to buy a house?


8 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Apr 29, 2015 at 11:05 am

Slow down,

Making a sarcastic comment is pointless.

I could say "Eliminate the minimum wage"
Do you see how silly your comment sounds?

The current minimum wages are relatively lower compared to 30-50 years ago.
In a place like Palo Alto, a gradual increase to $15 will not hurt the economy.


4 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 29, 2015 at 11:18 am

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Chris - It won't hurt the economy if you don't think losing low income jobs, and mom and pop retail hurts the economy. You are right if you are saying the average rich Palo Alto homeowner won't be affected. You may even feel better about yourself, but the net effect will be fewer entry level jobs, and it isn't going to help anyone live here.


6 people like this
Posted by Andrew
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 29, 2015 at 11:24 am

Great - so all the new restaurants will open in Mt. View and we'll have more offices fronting University Ave. Yet again, the city council leading way! Way to go folks!


4 people like this
Posted by Cassie
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 29, 2015 at 11:34 am

Wait for longer lines at your fast food places as the employer will not be hiring that many workers.


11 people like this
Posted by Jorge
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 29, 2015 at 11:35 am

While I am in favor, in general, of a higher minimum wage, I think a blanket $15 / hour is not the best way to go. On the one hand, it covers all businesses equally, whether it's an elder-care home or an ice-cream parlor. Not all businesses will have the same capacity to absorb increased payroll costs. I think the comments already posted about potentially driving out retail businesses are spot on.

For the workers, a $15/hour rate may actually limit opportunities for people just starting out. I am thinking about high school kids getting their first job. They are untrained, and untested, and at $15 probably not a great investment. Perhaps an exclusion can be made for teenagers, so that we don't limit opportunities for them, and at the same time give businesses that need very basic labor, and that present excellent first-job opportunities, a break and the chance to not have such a great impact on their payrolls.


9 people like this
Posted by Jorge
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 29, 2015 at 11:39 am

To add to my previous comment - an age-scaled minimum wage is not unheard of. For example, the Netherlands uses it: Web Link

What a great way to help both businesses and young workers! Otherwise, why would a small business hire an inexperienced 16-year old?


4 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 29, 2015 at 11:52 am

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Chis - BTW, I wasn't being sarcastic, i was just trying to point out that it is self delusion suggest raising the minimum wage to $15 or $17 will have any impact on the ability of minimum workers to live in Palo Alto. And if one worker finds that one elusive apartment, it isn't even a good use of his hard earned wages.


13 people like this
Posted by BarronParker
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 29, 2015 at 11:52 am

BarronParker is a registered user.

For many people, these minimum wage entry-level positions are their first chance to have a responsible job. These (mostly kids) are not taking this job to "live in Palo Alto". They're doing the job to make some money and learn how to (mostly) serve other people and contribute to society. Setting a $15 minimum will drastically curtail entry-level employment in Palo Alto, significantly reducing these opportunities. Retail, which has a difficult enough time making it in Palo Alto, will close. It's a lose-lose proposition, with the only "win" being the illusion that this foolish attempt at social engineering is helping people.

These adverse effects of a $15/hr minimum in Palo Alto are easily forseen. Way to go, Berman, Burt, DuBois and Wolbach.


11 people like this
Posted by Rogue Trader
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 29, 2015 at 12:03 pm

A large metropolis like San Francisco can raise min wage much larger than neighboring cities and get away with it. Most San Francisco residents are unlikely to get in their cars and get on the freeway to eat and shop in Millbrae.

But if Mountain View is $10.30 while Palo Alto balloons to $15.00, then Palo Alto's restaurant and retail labor costs could be up to 46% more expensive than Mountain View's.

Prices in Palo Alto will go up disproportionately, and more customers will flow to Mountain View and Menlo Park restaurants and retail.


20 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 29, 2015 at 12:21 pm

There are already stores that are closing or have closed in Palo Alto because the owners couldn't afford the cost of operating here. Just recently, Freebirds and the Cheesesteak Shop closed.

I think that the most likely outcome of such a foolhardy, "bleeding heart" move would be the departure of fast food or casual dining restaurants from Palo Alto or immediate inflation for those that remain (which, ironically, would hit the low and middle income residents of Palo Alto more than anyone else).

The worst consequence would be more people "settling" into unskilled, minimum wage positions as though it is a viable career. $15/hour is just slightly below the average salary of recent college graduates who have dedicated four years of their lives toward earning an education and degree to set them apart from the unskilled labor.

In other words, a high school dropout will earn $15/hour but a college graduate will earn just over $20/hour. After four or five years of struggling through college, the graduate will be just $5/hour more valuable than a student or even someone who dropped out of school.

A minimum wage job NEEDS to be low enough to influence individuals to stay in school or seek choices for better education and skill improvement.


10 people like this
Posted by Paul G
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2015 at 12:24 pm

A lot of these comments are based on assumptions that sound logical but are, in fact, myths. The issue has been very thoroughly examined and there is a clear consensus. The Labor Dept looked at 64 different studies that found no discernible effect on employment. For more (documented) realities about raising the minimum wage, who the workers are, and more, check out 'Myths and Facts About the Minimum Wage" Web Link


14 people like this
Posted by green bean
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2015 at 12:35 pm

Since Palo Alto is one of the wealthiest cities in the country...who are these misers with a twisted view of our workers? Many of these workers are grateful to have these entry level jobs and can't call them temporary. They are not kids and have families to support or a college education to support. Good for Palo Alto for attempting to share its extreme wealth. [Portion removed.]


21 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 29, 2015 at 1:14 pm

@ green bean:

You wrote: "Many of these workers are grateful to have these entry level jobs and can't call them temporary. They are not kids and have families to support or a college education to support. Good for Palo Alto for attempting to share its extreme wealth."

There's your issue. You assume that minimum wage jobs are supposed to be viable vocations for supporting a family. Spoiler alert: They're not. Minimum wage jobs are unskilled labor jobs that call for unskilled labor wages. $15/hour is a skilled labor wage.


4 people like this
Posted by Neilson Buchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 29, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Dear Downtown Worker living in Menlo Park
Most of your comments make good sense and could lead to better city policy. I encourage you to identify yourself so like-minded people could network. For example, I am discouraged that city staff and Council (presumably) want to convert a Hamilton Ave parking lot to a parking garage. This is irrational and counter-productive if "WE" really want less traffic, walkable neighborhoods, housing compatible with downtown, etc. Or do we want more traffic, pollution, gridlock? A new garage is so 1950s. The parking lot is ideal location for downtown compatible housing suitable for today's workers. 27 University project, too, has gone dark. Why not put housing priorities ahead of more office space and make a small improvement in Palo Alto's outrageous jobs/housing imbalance.


4 people like this
Posted by enough!
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 29, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Well, that'll get you a refrigerator box under the freeway.


9 people like this
Posted by enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 29, 2015 at 2:23 pm

The main reason that several long time retail and restaurant shops are gone from Palo Alto isn't because they weren't profitable. It's because of landlord/developer greed, plain and simple. No business can afford rent increases every four months and to operate under the constant threat of eviction. No one can compete with back deal auctions for the highest bidder to rent a space. Most of us know what's going on, and most of us are powerless to do a damn thing about it. This City is being run by the few, and completely ignoring the needs and wishes of the many.


5 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 29, 2015 at 2:25 pm

I guess this is a good way to force poor seniors sell their houses and move out of Palo Alto, because hiring a caretaker will be even less affordable.


7 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 29, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Greedy landlords raising the rents by tens of thousands of dollars each month causes more stores and restaurants to close than raising the minimum wage of a few workers by a few hundred a month.

How about if we cap all city managers' salary, benefits and retirement pay since they expect to retire at FULL salary with their lush benefits?

How about capping all top executive pay since they get raises and additional stock grants for laying off workers, especially older workers when they hit 50+? At least remove the cap on earnings subject to Social Security!


6 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside
on Apr 29, 2015 at 3:02 pm

The minimum wage is deeply unethical because it makes it hard for the low-skilled to find work. These are the people who are most in need of employment experience.

There are far more humane ways to help the employed poor. The EITC is one.


11 people like this
Posted by Casa de Cerveza
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 29, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Casa de Cerveza is a registered user.

If San Francisco can raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, Palo Alto can too. This increase will have minimal impact on most retail businesses, which have the option to pass higher prices onto increasingly wealthy customers. If some businesses fail, then more efficient businesses will take their place. That is how capitalism works. What a bunch of penny-pinching misers living in the midst of billionaires!


9 people like this
Posted by Greenbean
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2015 at 3:20 pm

@ Nayeli

Unskilled workers any where have to live too. If you took their Palo Alto jobs away...Palo Alto would be paralyzed.


14 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 29, 2015 at 5:16 pm

@ Greenbean: Yes, we all have to live somewhere. However, most unskilled workers do NOT live in Palo Alto. Like most of the people who work here, they do not live here because it costs so much. This is why the daytime population of Palo Alto is so much higher than the nighttime population.

The consequences of not raising the minimum wage?

If the minimum wage is not raised, things would continue like they are right now. Most of the minimum wage workers will live outside of the city in other communities or in multiple-earner houses or apartments. In fact, that would be the case even if the minimum wage is raised.

$15/hour isn't going to help someone rent a $3000/month apartment. Before taxes, you make about $30,000/year on a $15/hour full-time wage. A $3,000/month apartment costs $36,000 per year to rent.

More importantly, those jobs are not supposed to be used to raise a family or seen as a long-term solution for employment. There are enough high school and college students in Palo Alto who will gladly take those jobs if the current out-of-towners suddenly quit their jobs.

I fear that society (well, a certain bleeding heart segment of society) is doing more harm than good. Raising the minimum wage out of some form of compassion for the financial situation of unskilled workers is like giving a person a fish rather than teaching them how to fish. These workers need to gain skills and education so that they never (NEVER) become comfortable in such unskilled, menial jobs.

Source: I lived my life in poverty. It serves to motivate a person to make the effort to obtain skills, education and movement that will make them more than an unskilled, menial laborer.


7 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 29, 2015 at 5:57 pm

Relax, Nayeli. Businesses will find a way to cut workers;' hours enough to deny them health insurance and other benefits and we the taxpayer will be stuck making up the difference. For each Wal-Mart store where workers are under-paid, we the taxpayers subsidize one of the wealthiest families in the US so their under-paid workers can get food stamps, govt-provided health care, housing subsidies, energy assistance, etc.

I personally prefer smart retail clerks who know their business and their stock, not pushy commission-only workers. I'll never forget when I learned that Peet's in Town & Country cut back the hours of my favorite guy -- their manager who knew coffee since he was writing a book about it! -- so he and his family lost their benefits. All my loyalty to Peet's went out the window that day.


8 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 29, 2015 at 5:59 pm

I forgot to mention above that we the taxpayer subsidize EACH Wal-Mart store to the tune of $1,000,000 to make up for them under-paying their workers.


16 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 29, 2015 at 6:21 pm

@ Online Name: I am relaxed. :-)

I don't stress out over the sentiments of people who don't truly understand micro/macroeconomics or who fail to understand how silly it is to think that a person a job flipping burgers or building a sandwich is worth $15/hour while a new college graduate -- who spent four or five years and $250K in pursuit of a degree -- is worth just $5 more.


4 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 29, 2015 at 6:40 pm

The Peet's manager had an advanced degree, was middle-aged and had a family. He was in charge of training the new employees and took the job so he could write about the coffee trade from another angle and was in-line for a regional manager job until the cost-cutting MBAs gutted his job in the same way they're trying to kill worker's comp.

Once upon a time retail was an honorable profession and a path to professional growth. Remember "Merchant Princes"?

Anyone else remember the Prestige Boutique that had been in Town & Country for 40 or so years, 2d-genration? They were forced to move into a larger space just when the dot.boom crash occurred. The landlord wouldn't let them move back into a more affordable smaller spot.

The city did nothing in the years it took their business to die.

The City Development Manager (or some-such title) was truly shocked when he showed up at the going party attended by a few 100 people that maybe the city should have intervened on the business's behalf.


6 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 30, 2015 at 7:20 am

Palo Alto is a real estate and development town now, and has been for a very long time now.

Of course the voices you hear are going to be against this because every penny they have to actually pay employees is less money investors and renters can charge in rents to businesses.

By all means, let's support our already profitable and profiteering real estate sector and lets again stick it to the poor people who actually do the work in our City because they cannot do anything about it but move into their cars, and we can get them again when they do that as well.

This is the same fallacy that has operated for many decades about not paying the farmworkers and farmers because the price of food will go up when in fact the cost of their labor is just a minute part of the cost of food. We always get the point of view of those who make the most money.

Whenever the marginal income of a local economy goes up everyone who charges money for something seeks to raise their prices to get a piece of it. People charge more for stuff in Palo Alto because they think Palo Altans have the money and so they do. If everyone raises prices it kills the goose. Lots of people go outside Palo Alto now to do their shopping because the rents in Palo Alto are so high products in Palo Alto are more highly prices that the same products in other areas, even local areas.

Unless we make actually being fair and helping working people out a little bit, which makes a big different to them, it doesn't happen, because they are the ones that get stiffed in this process because they have no voice and they are easy to let blow away in the "free" market. But the things that cost us real money are not because of the market for the most part, it is political.

The real estate sector really doesn't want to see this happen because it's likely that prices will not go up at all, but what will happen is that businesses that pay rent will balk at the unreasonable rent raises they will see, so the real estate sector will lose a small bit of their already huge profit.


5 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 30, 2015 at 7:36 am

Nayeli:
>> ... people who don't truly understand micro/macroeconomics or who fail to
>> understand how silly it is to think that a person a job flipping burgers or
>> building a sandwich is worth $15/hour while a new college graduate --
>> who spent four or five years and $250K in pursuit of a degree -- is worth just $5 more.

[Portion removed.]

First, IF a new college graduate is unlucky enough to get a job that pays only
$20 an hour around there, they have a bright future to look forward to and will
only have to take that salary for a short time ... most likely while they are living
with their parents - because they choose to take that job to get started with a
good company towards a good future.

They probably do not have to pay rent, nor would they have to pay off college
loans because they simply could not afford to do it on $20/hour.

If our colleges are turning out people who can seek $20/hour jobs after paying
$250K in college expense or loans, these are people who have the option of
intelligently planning what they want to do and choose to do it. They are not
doing it to try to survive by slowing being squeezed to death as most low
income workers are.

These bogus economic argument from those wagging their fingers and
talking capitalism economic argument from the last century or earlier. We
know around here who gets the benefits of "capitalism" ... the connected
people and friends of the highest income people. The ones who get the
over $200K salaries in the city for example, paid to NOT do their jobs.

If we want good community, good workers, why do we want to hire the most
desperate people for the least sustainable wages and then imagine they are
doing a good job? Because the people who make this argument are not
thinking of the whole economy, they are thinking of the rents they can charge.

And that is really fine, I am not against rent, I just realize that we as a community
have a responsibility to everyone in our community not to screw them over
to the ultimate degree, and they only way we really do that because of the tendency
for people to be greedy is to make it a political priority to be fair to people.

It's not fair to know that people are working here where yes, rents of even rooms
are over $1000 a month, food is expensive, health care, education, gas, etc.
We can ignore stomping on these people for the imagined theoretical triumph
of being able to say we have a free market ... which we don't.


1 person likes this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 30, 2015 at 7:51 am

Slow Down:
>> point out that it is self delusion suggest raising the minimum wage to $15 or $17
>> will have any impact on the ability of minimum workers to live in Palo Alto.

On the contrary, going from whatever the minimum wage is not to $15 or $17 makes
a huge impact for those people in that situation. What are you thinking? Whether
they live or can live in Palo Alto is irrelevant.

It sure is not going to be inflationary because Palo Alto businesses are not going to
be raising their prices to go after that money, they follow the larger economy locally.
These faux arguments are all about scraping every penny for landlords at the
expense of all of us when we deal with local businesses. The landlords are chasing
that money.

The economic arguments made here are just so thin and transparent, they are like
the crocodile arguments against slavery because it would hurt those poor black slaves,
it is for their own good. [Portion removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 30, 2015 at 12:03 pm

@ CrescentParkAnon.:

[Portion removed.]

You wrote: "First, IF a new college graduate is unlucky enough to get a job that pays only $20 an hour around there, they have a bright future to look forward to and will only have to take that salary for a short time ... most likely while they are living with their parents - because they choose to take that job to get started with a good company towards a good future."

Actually, I am citing the average starting salaries as indicated by the Class of 2013 First-Destination Survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The average starting salary of a college graduate is now $44,928 (the median is just over $42,000). If you divide the $44,928 by 40 hours a week and 52 weeks a year, then the average starting salary for college graduates (bachelor's degrees) is $21.70 per hour (with a median of $20.51).

Thus, a $15/hour minimum wage for UNSKILLED work is just about $5/hour more than someone who has dedicated four or five years of their lives -- and an enormous expense in tuition, fees, etc... -- to earning a degree. This isn't about people living with their parents (a non-issue since most college students do NOT live at home). If anything is being "made-up," it is these sort of things that you claim about living at home, short-lived smaller salaries, etc...

In the REAL WORLD (outside of the confines of Palo Alto wealth), most of us worked and/or borrowed money to go to college. We didn't live at home. We didn't have a large support group of parents who were college graduates (as is true for more than 70% of the United States -- which has one of the highest rates of college graduates in the world).

The bottom line of what I stated is entirely accurate. A high school dropout hired as part-time unskilled labor at McDonald's should not have a wage on par with skilled labor. This is not a career. It is never supposed to be a career. It is little more than part-time, unskilled labor. Nothing more. Nothing less.

No one is "ignoring those people." I never felt like I was ignored when I worked in fast food or other minimum wage jobs. I never felt like I was ignored when I was picking vegetables in fields from 6 AM to 9 PM every April through October each year. We were content with our pay because we saw it as a viable means to support our family (and it was). We used our money to buy several acres of land and then build a large home upon it. My nine siblings and I did very well -- especially for parents who had little more than a 5th grade education, no understanding of English and a dad with a part-time job (minimum wage) at a K-Mart and Wal-Mart.

Have you ever worked for minimum wage during your adult life? I never felt "stomped on" (as you say) -- but it is amazing that certain people are trying to convince unskilled workers that they are worth so much more without any job skill or education. [Portion removed.]

In fact, the low pay, long hours and hard work served as a motivation to NEVER get stuck in those types of jobs. This is a motivating factor for people to go to college in the first place. No one wants to be stuck in an unskilled labor position. However, if you pay someone a large wage for unskilled labor, then the motivation factor just won't be as strong for such individuals.


6 people like this
Posted by Disbelief
a resident of another community
on Apr 30, 2015 at 3:40 pm

Palo Alto is recruiting for four summer jobs right now under $15/hour. Talk about hypocrisy.

Rec Leader III Limited Hourly $9.69 - $11.91 Hourly Continuous
MSA Coach (Recreation Leader I) Limited Hourly $9.69 - $11.91 Hourly Continuous
Camp Counselor - Recreation (Rec Leader ... Limited Hourly $9.69 - $11.91 Hourly Continuous
Summer Camp Counselors (Rec Leader I) Limited Hourly $9.69 - $11.91 Hourly Continuous
Assistant Site Director - Recreation Cam... Limited Hourly $13.12 - $16.10 Hourly Continuous


4 people like this
Posted by Charles White
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 1, 2015 at 3:43 am

We know from SF and Oakland that workers will lose their jobs if the minimum wage is raised. Employers only have a limited amount of money. So some workers will be fired. Others will get less hours. If council passes this law, they should set up a program to help those thrown on the streets. They should get free housing, food, transportation, etc. The council members who favor this should calculate this cost -- and put it in the city budget.


4 people like this
Posted by Charles
a resident of Terman Middle School
on May 7, 2016 at 10:15 pm

We should all go back to the 1950's when the minimum wage was 75 cents!!! For a guy like me who works 3 jobs and still can't afford to live in Palo Alto even though I am a 5th generation Palo Altan, this doesn't make any sense... I am also a college graduate.. So I am not worth $15/hr? Please enlighten me how much you think someone like me should be paid.....


6 people like this
Posted by Charles
a resident of Terman Middle School
on May 7, 2016 at 10:32 pm

@Maurice (the 1st comment)
Wake up. It isn't the 1950's anymore... The cost of living has gone up, so should what hard working people like myself should be paid.

And a lot of you are wrong on here. Not every person making min wage is straight out of school... I am 36 years old and make $11.82/hr at my 1 job... $12.43 at my 2nd job... and $12.85 at my 3rd job and I CANNOT AFFORD TO LIVE IN PALO ALTO. That is why I moved to the Santa Cruz Mountains and now have to drive an hour and half to work on a dangerous road everyday. I graduated college. I work my *** off and to be told I am not worth $15/ hr is wrong on every level. When most of you Older people were starting out, the economy was not this uneven. I can't even have a 2nd child because I can hardly afford my first to go to preschool which is almost as much as rent.

$15/hr is not going to shut any business in Palo Alto down, so save your breath Richy Rich.


4 people like this
Posted by VOICE OF REASON
a resident of Downtown North
on May 7, 2016 at 10:35 pm

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Rediculous
a resident of Downtown North
on May 7, 2016 at 10:45 pm

By "Unskilled" do you mean not born into money? Maybe I should steal someone else's idea like Mark Zuckerburg did and become the richest person on the planet.. That's what socitey is telling me to do by rewarding that thief..


4 people like this
Posted by Resident 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 7, 2016 at 11:03 pm

I can not believe the comments by many posters saying $15 an hour is too much. It also is amazing that a lot of the posters grew up in Palo Alto, have college degrees, and still make less than $15 an hour. Is it possible, that there is disconnect with reality with the upper class. Probably not, I feel that they just don't give a rats @##! Truly heartless.

This reminds me of the quote from Marie Antoinette in regards to people starving in the streets of France; "Let them eat cake." We all know how that ended up.


2 people like this
Posted by Tyler Durden
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2016 at 12:49 am

Raising the minimum wage will cause more low-wage workers to be replaced by machines. The true minimum wage is always zero, and businesses are quick to respond to incentives.

Also: will there be exemptions that allow union jobs to pay below minimum wage, as has been the case in recent municipal minimum wage increases? See for example: Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Supply and demand
a resident of Professorville
on May 8, 2016 at 2:47 am

This is the best way to drive service-related jobs out of Palo Alto, and to increase the cost of living for folks living in or near Palo Alto.

This is basic supply and demand. If enough people were unavailable to work at the prices established already, the prices would go up, thanks to scarcity.

This is mucking around with things we don't understand nor likely CANNOT understand the ramifications of.

I can say the following, though: You want to drive up inflation-- pay everyone more than the worth they're contributing to the economy.

You want the poor to be less poor, then you need to redistribute wealth explicitly, or lower costs for the basics.

Guess what... building more housing does more to help affordability in Palo Alto than setting ANY minimum wage.


Like this comment
Posted by Let's face it
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 8, 2016 at 9:09 am

Undocumented workers have been one of the reasons why wages have been artificially kept low in the bay area.If we made these folks legal it would raise the minimum wage and be better for the economy...Oh, but then they would be able to vote....Just sayen'.


Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 8, 2016 at 10:04 am

Supply and Demand gets to the nub of the minimum wage issue: How does anyone know the "correct" wage? Many commenters on this thread seem to suggest that a $15 minimum wage won't affect employers' ability or desire to hire workers. How can they know this? And if a $15/hr wage won't affect employment opportunities, then why not a $17/hr wage, or a $20 wage? Indeed, why not the $150/hr wage suggested early in this thread?

How can those of you here smart enough to say that a $150 wage is "ridiculous" think you are smart enough to say a $20 wage is not ridiculous?

The reality is that if a prospective worker's skills are valuable enough for an employer to pay whatever minimum wage politicians set as the "correct" wage, that worker will be hired. If not, the worker won't be hired.

This is true for a $150/hr wage, a $15/hr wage and a $5/wage. Now it's obvious that there are more workers whose labor is worth $15/hr than those whose labor is worth $150/hr. But there are even more workers whose labor is worth only $5 or $10 an hour. It's really a matter of degree.

But it should be obvious that the workers who are penalized are those whose skills and knowledge are the least valuable. That is, the less privileged members of our society are those most affected.

Raising the minimum wage may make unthinking politicians believe they're helping the least among us, but it's precisely those people who the minimum wage hurts most.

If you care about the unemployed and the poor, you should be against a minimum wage increase.


Like this comment
Posted by Let's face it
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 8, 2016 at 10:32 am

'This is true for a $150/hr wage, a $15/hr wage and a $5/wage. Now it's obvious that there are more workers whose labor is worth $15/hr than those whose labor is worth $150/hr. But there are even more workers whose labor is worth only $5 or $10 an hour. It's really a matter of degree."

At $5 an hour or $15 an hour, slavery would be more expensive. Think about it. Housing, food, medical costs.

It seems to me that most of the posters that are against the minimum wage increase, were not raised in the bay area, and do not reflect our values.


Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 8, 2016 at 11:04 am

I was born and raised in Berkeley. Last I checked, that was in the Bay Area. I've always understood Bay Area "values" to the extent that they exist at all, to encompass a concern for the underprivileged and marginalized members of our communities.

To the extent that one's "values" are at odds with reality, including the reality that raising the minimum wage will cause the economically underprivileged to lose opportunities, they hardly reflect the traditional concern we Bay Area natives and progressives everywhere have shown for the poor.

It's one thing to grandstand for the purposes of virtue signaling, but when an unthinking ideological commitment to a policy has the actual real-world effect of harming the poor, it's time to think one's "values".

It's fine to have a open minded and fair discussion about the effects of raising the minimum wage - or any other policy of public interest, but in my opinion it degrades the discussion to accuse one's adversaries of (for example) advocating slavery.


Like this comment
Posted by Let's face it
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 8, 2016 at 1:00 pm

"It's fine to have a open minded and fair discussion about the effects of raising the minimum wage - or any other policy of public interest, but in my opinion it degrades the discussion to accuse one's adversaries of (for example) advocating slavery.'


Slavery/ Indentured Servitude has already been advocated and accomplished here in Silicon Valley.

A friend of mine (from Mexico) had to come up with $7800 to get his wife across the border last week. These are the same people that are serving your food, mowing your lawns, watching your kids. When is this insanity going to end. I thought that we had laws against these injustices. Guess not.

On another note I was listening to NPR the other day and a statistician that they were interviewing came up with this startling statistic:

'The U.S. has the second lowest minimum wage compared to cost of living in westernized world, the first would be Mexico."


Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 8, 2016 at 5:59 pm

"'The U.S. has the second lowest minimum wage compared to cost of living in westernized world, the first would be Mexico.""

Based on this, one could infer that some here might be in favor of raising the minimum wage to, say $150/hr - likely the highest in the entire world.

This would of course be disastrous for the poor and unskilled, but at least the advocates could say that they spoke out forcefully against wage slavery and indentured servitude.


Like this comment
Posted by Let's face it
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 8, 2016 at 8:00 pm


"To the extent that one's "values" are at odds with reality, including the reality that raising the minimum wage will cause the economically underprivileged to lose opportunities, they hardly reflect the traditional concern we Bay Area natives and progressives everywhere have shown for the poor."

All these unthinking progressive policies have created these economic disparity's. So if Trump gets elected ( god forbid) we have no one to blame but ourselves. How do like that for virtue signaling.


Like this comment
Posted by Let's face it
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 8, 2016 at 8:00 pm


"To the extent that one's "values" are at odds with reality, including the reality that raising the minimum wage will cause the economically underprivileged to lose opportunities, they hardly reflect the traditional concern we Bay Area natives and progressives everywhere have shown for the poor."

All these unthinking progressive policies have created these economic disparity's. So if Trump gets elected ( god forbid) we have no one to blame but ourselves. How do like that for virtue signaling.


2 people like this
Posted by Charles
a resident of Terman Middle School
on May 8, 2016 at 8:32 pm

Wait wait wait...
Mary, you are saying that not paying $15 is going to help the poor? (If you care about the unemployed and the poor, you should be against a minimum wage increase.)

[Portion removed.]
And where did you get this $150/hr? Not everyone can work at Google and Facebook... That's almost what some employees make. And for coding a computer? Give me a break.

@Let's face it: If you make under $50k / year you are a slave.
You are 100% right when you say that "Slavery/ Indentured Servitude has already been advocated and accomplished here in Silicon Valley."

@Supply and demand, "building more housing does more to help affordability in Palo Alto than setting ANY minimum wage."
That is a patch fix. It traps people into living check to check and you will never save for a place of your own. Also, what happens when they cut the HUD program? Bye bye all the really poor people in Palo Alto.

I graduated College and had to give up my carrer in Los Angeles to take care of my sick mother. Starting from the bottom is NOT a rare occurrence, especially in the Bay Area.


Like this comment
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 8, 2016 at 10:45 pm

Pegging the minimum wage is the important process. One of the most common
smarty comments from opponents is "well, if $15/hr is good, why wouldn't
$100/hr or $1,000,000/hr be better? Gotta love the sense of humor of those
conservatives.

According to some studies anything less than or equal to approximately 60%
of the median, the value at the midpoint of the frequency distribution, works.

What is more important ... shoring up our totally unfair, unequal, failing on
all metrics system - or supporting human values.

What is also very entertaining in a funny way, is hearing far right conservatives
criticizing the very idea of a minimum wage ... on the basis of their concern for
the poor. For a political party so concerned with Freedom and Liberty the way
Conservatives ignore the importance of being able to pay for the things that
support and further your life!


Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 9, 2016 at 8:41 am

The point of bringing up a $150/hr minimum wage is not a poor attempt at comedy. It is to make the point to the less economically literate that raising the price of labor prices some workers out of the market. Anyone not totally blinded by ideology can understand that if employers are forced to pay at least $150/hr, anyone whose labor is not worth that amount will lose their jobs.

And of course the same is true for $100/hr, $50/hr, $25/hr and even the arbitrary $15/hr. Certainly many fewer workers will be affected by a $15/hr minimum than by a $150/hr minimum, but the principles are identical.

Plane Speaker misstates the studies he alludes to in his somewhat unfocused remark about the effects of a minimum wage set to 60% of the median wage. In fact all studies show and virtually all economists agree that raising the minimum wage above the prevailing market wage will result in SOME job losses. The economic argument is over exactly how much job loss will occur at any given minimum wage point. No one contends there is the totally free lunch minimum wage that will result in zero job loss.

The real policy argument is whether the putative small number of job losses at say, a $15/hr wage is a good trade off for raising the incomes of the larger number of people who remain employed at the higher minimum. But some people suffer. Very few workers would choose being unemployed at a $15/hr wage rate over having a job at a $12/hr rate. But of course, the whole point of the minimum wage is to take that choice away from some workers so that others can get a raise.

I really don't see pursuing a policy that will with certainty result in the least advantaged people - those without the education or skills to command a greater than $15/hr wage - losing their jobs as particularly progressive. I accept that there are arguments that the trade-offs involved are acceptable to some, but it's not obvious that it represents anything other than personal preference. And it does seem unduly harsh to the workers who are affected: ignoring their plight is anything but progressive


3 people like this
Posted by Resident 2
a resident of Barron Park
on May 9, 2016 at 9:57 am

Gee wizz Mary, after reading your rhetoric ,it sounds like you would have the most to lose over this minimum wage increase.


Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 9, 2016 at 10:13 am

Well, thankfully I don't have much to lose personally from the current proposal to raise the wage to $15/hr. I'm pretty much retired. But long ago, when I was in school, I worked a number of minimum wage jobs. I got to finish school largely because of what I earned working for the minimum wage. I know that some of the people I worked for couldn't have paid me more than what they paid me at the time, so it's hard not to empathize with those who'll not have the job opportunities I had if the proposed minimum goes into effect.


2 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 9, 2016 at 12:47 pm

>> The point of bringing up a $150/hr minimum wage is not a poor attempt at comedy. It is to make the point to the less economically literate that raising the price of labor prices some workers out of the market.

NO Mary, you're overstating your comment ... at $150/hr - ALL minimum wage workers and most of all other middle class workers would be priced out of the market. At or below 60% of the median wage there is no such disruption.

It is easy to think you can win an argument by making loud self-righteous but irrelevant COMEDIC statement. Not so funny to a lot of people.

It seems more than likely you have a belief on this and don't care about facts or logic. It is beliefs that you can take advantage of the large pool or starving, ignorant and desperate people around the world to drive American wages down, and the result has been the misery or loss of the middle class in America. Now the middle class in America is the smalled fraction of any nation in the developed world.

Trying to run the world on cold economic principles made up in large part to exploit and keep down certain people has not worked for the majority of the US [portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Let's face it
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 9, 2016 at 2:17 pm

"Well, thankfully I don't have much to lose personally from the current proposal to raise the wage to $15/hr. I'm pretty much retired. But long ago, when I was in school, I worked a number of minimum wage jobs. I got to finish school largely because of what I earned working for the minimum wage. I know that some of the people I worked for couldn't have paid me more than what they paid me at the time, so it's hard not to empathize with those who'll not have the job opportunities I had if the proposed minimum goes into effect."

The statement above proves the disconnect by people like "Mary" and the working poor, and what is left of the middle class, for that matter.


2 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 9, 2016 at 4:33 pm

P. Speaker, I am familiar with the data you appear to cite and you simply misstate the facts. The only country that has a minimum wage at 60% of the median is France. France has a youth and young adult (15 to 26 years old) unemployment rate of 26%. Even economists who favor raising the minimum wage admit that it will have negative effects on employment - especially for the high minimum you appear to favor.

Contrary to your assertions, I've used only facts and logic in my arguments. It's those who want to engage in moral grandstanding by asserting they truly care about the poor while advocating policies that would hurt those very people who are bereft of either facts or logic.

Similarly, Let's face it ignores my entire and clearly stated argument that the reason I am skeptical of minimum wage increases is that they appear to affect the poorest and least skilled among us.

I'm happy to entertain arguments that I'm wrong about the effects on the poor of minimum wages, but moral preening gets a little boring when it's presented in post after post without even attempting to address the facts or arguments at hand.


Like this comment
Posted by Let's face it
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 9, 2016 at 5:03 pm

"Even economists who favor raising the minimum wage admit that it will have negative effects on employment - especially for the high minimum you appear to favor."

I knew a guy who used to work for a company and he used to make $14.50 an hour, this was a landscaping job in and around Los Altos,this was 1987. The house at the time would sell for $250,000. Now workers doing the same job ,and more are getting $12 to $15 an hour, by the way same house sells for $3,000,000.

So The high minimum that we appear to be are in favor of is $15 an hour?!!
This is the disconnect with reality that we are talking about. However, we know that this is not the case. Don't we? [Portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 9, 2016 at 5:51 pm

"Let's face it" appears to want to turn the discussion into a contest of who cares most about the poor. I'm perfectly willing to concede that Let's face it cares a lot about the plight of the poor.

Let's face it seems unable to grasp that "caring" alone does not constitute a policy that will actually help the poor.

I fail to see what a random recitation of facts about Los Altos housing prices in 1987 and the employment history of "a guy I knew" has to do with the discussion at hand, or that Let's face it's subjective impressions constitutes proof of repeal of the laws of economics.

I'd like to see the "minimum" wage high enough so that no one would have problems getting by in today's Bay Area economy. I'd guess that minimum would be would be in the $30-$40/hr range. If wages for landscapers had tracked Let's face it's representation of Los Altos house prices since 1987, the wage would be $174/hr.

Who here is foolish enough to assert that a minimum wage in that range wouldn't cause unemployment to rise? Who here wants to assert that such a minimum wage wouldn't devastate the poor and unskilled?


Like this comment
Posted by Let's face it
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 9, 2016 at 6:17 pm

@ Mary


Honestly, we just care about what happened to the middle class.


Like this comment
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 9, 2016 at 9:34 pm

It's funny the same people who want to raise taxes on things like cigarettes and sugar drinks to disincentivize their use don't make the connection that raising wages does the same thing.


Like this comment
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 9, 2016 at 11:55 pm

Mary, you got the facts on France wrong ...

> France has the rich world's highest wage floor, at more than 60% of the median for adults and a far bigger fraction of the typical wage for the

Notice the "more".

France is still working and has a higher standard of living, better healthcare, education, etc.

What I said was that under 60% of the median wage the minimum wage seems to work. There is some job losses, but those losses are not permanent and stimulated growth creates more jobs and growth in the medium term.

I did NOT say specifically what I favor, because it really doesn't matter, the issue at this point is to get the facts out and discuss the issue. However, I will say what I think is fair is pegging the minimum wage to the median of a local economic area or zone. I think this would solve the problem people talk about outside the metro areas of the country where living expenses are higher.

To me what is important is that our country and people internalize the idea that it is unacceptable to have what is a virtual slave class who are culturally stuck in demeaning, dehumanizing jobs with no future.

> Who here wants to assert that such a minimum wage wouldn't devastate the poor and unskilled?

Uh, me and I think the facts back me. A little unemployment is acceptable, but not devastating. That is what we have unemployment insurance for.

No one has mentioned guaranteeing a wage that would buy people a house in Los Altos, which would be unworkable anyway ... so why'd you bring it up?


Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 10, 2016 at 8:47 am

Plane Speaker-

[Portion removed.] France's minimum wage is (in the latest figures available from the OECD) 61% of the median and has varied in the narrow range of between 56% of the median and 62% of the median since the year 2000. See Web Link. Are you really going to stake your argument on this?

Moreover you contend, without citing any evidence at all, that "There is (sic) some job losses, but those losses are not permanent and stimulated growth creates more jobs and growth in the medium term."

In fact, the evidence shows no such job growth over the short, medium, or long term however you define it. In fact, France's youth unemployment rate has been high and slightly rising - varying between 23 and 26 percent for the past 10 years. Web Link.

Frances overall unemployment has shown none of the improvement that it's two closest competitors, Great Britain and Germany have had during the past decade and at around 10% now is roughly double the rate of these two countries. See Web Link and Web Link and Web Link.

Rhetoric about a "slave class" adds nothing to the discussion. It's really only virtue signalling meant to indicate what a good person you (think you) are.. All thinking people would like a system where everyone - including especially the disadvantaged and poor can prosper. I think the evidence shows that minimum wage increases of the sort you advocate - or even the $15/hr Palo Alto proposes - harm the poor and I've presented my evidence. What do you have? Unemployment insurance as a salve for policies that produce high unemployment for the less skilled not for "the medium term" but for years on end in the French case? "A little unemployment is not devastating??" Not devastating for the people actually affected? Really? Really?

I'm perfectly willing to discuss any real evidence that runs contrary to my argument - and I suspect there is some, just not convincing evidence in my opinion. But so far, no one here has presented any. Assertions of "fact" without citation or attribution don't count.

Finally, I didn't bring up the issue of Los Altos house prices and wages, nor did I suggest there should be some relationship between them. Another poster did. [Portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Wages, poverty, middle class
a resident of Ohlone School
on May 10, 2016 at 8:56 am

The thing that helps the middle class most also helps overall prosperity of a region. It is economic mobility.

We should ask what a certain minimum wage does for economic mobility.

I don't know, but it would help my daughter learn how to work and contribute if she could explore in a role that she adds very little to at the start. Including volunteering.

I guess from this point of view I think any minimum wage hurts those trying to find a new career or role, including the semi-retired.

But how can such people afford to live in Palo Alto?

I don't know. Unless they have other household income, they can't.


Like this comment
Posted by Let's face it
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 10, 2016 at 9:30 am

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 10, 2016 at 1:27 pm

>> It's really only virtue signalling meant to indicate what a good person you (think you) are.

I suppose if I had to come up with a thought on that, which was not my
intention - yes, I think someone who does something rather than nothing
to assist low-income people would be a better person that someone who
used self-interested arguments that saves them a few pennies and keeps
citizens from helping the low-income people.

I don't care for your rude tone that implicitly assumes your anti-minimum
wage "argument" is correct and some kind of vague personal attack on
me implying that I am a hypocrite. You use the fact that a few minimum
wage workers will lose their jobs as unqualified evidence that a minimum
wage "harms the poor".

Your accusations assume that the scientific data such as it is, or that all
competent economists must agree with you. That is hardly proof, it is a
transparent attempt to twist data and pretend to be arguing facts. If you
were intellectually honest you would admit that there is disagreement on
this issue.

If you were really honest you would admit that most of those economist that
oppose the minimum wage hike also oppose any minimum wage and are the
bought and paid for mouthpieces of businesses making profits enough to pay
their workers better, in other words their own economic interests drives their
opinions. Their arguments are phony crocodile tear concerns for the poor.

Whereas those SCIENTISTS who support a minimum wage are experimentally
driven and do not have economic incentives to please their corporate superiors
who pay them. There are over 600 prominent economists here including 7
Nobel Prize winners who have signed this open public letter to our government
asking for an increase in the Federal minimum wage.

A federal minimum wage of $10.10 in 2014 across the nation justifies a local
higher minimum wage of $15 in Palo Alto and other expensive urban and
high costs areas. Indeed in lower cost areas than Palo Alto higher minimum
wages have been implemented with no catastrophe to the poor.

Here are some excerpts of that PUBLIC letter:

EPI - Economic Policy Institute
Web Link

Over 600 Economists Sign Letter In Support of $10.10 Minimum Wage
Economist Statement on the Federal Minimum Wage January 14, 2014

Dear Mr. President, Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Reid, Congressman Cantor, Senator McConnell, and Congresswoman Pelosi:

July will mark five years since the federal minimum wage was last raised. We urge you to act now and enact a three-step raise of 95 cents a year for three years—which would mean a minimum wage of $10.10 by 2016—and then index it to protect against inflation. Senator Tom Harkin and Representative George Miller have introduced legislation to accomplish this. The increase to $10.10 would mean that minimum-wage workers who work full time, full year would see a raise from their current salary of roughly $15,000 to roughly $21,000. These proposals also usefully raise the tipped minimum wage to 70% of the regular minimum.

...

In recent years there have been important developments in the academic literature on the effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment, with the weight of evidence now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market. Research suggests that a minimum-wage increase could have a small stimulative effect on the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earnings, raising demand and job growth, and providing some help on the jobs front.

Over 600 Notable Economists including:
- Kenneth Arrow, Stanford University*+
- Peter Diamond, Massachusetts Institute of Technology*+
- James Galbraith, University of Texas, Austin
- Eric Maskin, Harvard University*
- Thomas Schelling, University of Maryland*+
- Robert Solow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology*+
- A. Michael Spence, New York University*
- Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia University*

* Nobel laureate
+ Has served as American Economic Association president

Is this where you tell me a Nobel Prize actually indicates incompetent in a field?


Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 10, 2016 at 6:19 pm

It's difficult to have a discussion when some of the discussants can't or won't follow the train of conversation.

Recall that the original claim (made by Plane Speaker) was that a minimum wage level "less than or equal to approximately 60% of the median [wage]" "works" in that there will be "no disruption" from "middle class workers being priced out of the market".

I responded with what I thought was a pretty good refutation of this claim with detailed data in support of my arguments. I also said I'd be open to counterarguments to my arguments, but that I didn't think there would be any good ones.

I (naively it appears) expected any responses would try to support the claim that minimum wage levels up to 60% of the median wage wouldn't cause unemployment to rise significantly and/or that there would be some challenge to the data I presented. (N.B. The median wage in Santa Clara County is around $95,000 which under the 60% theory of Plane Speaker would imply a minimum wage of about $47.50/hr. wouldn't throw a lot of people out of work. Plane Speaker says he's in favor of pegging the minimum wage to the local median wage.)

Instead the only response didn't have anything to do with a $47/hr minimum wage or even the $15/hr minimum wage being discussed by the city of Palo Alto. And it didn't have any data at all.

Instead, what we got was largely misdirection: a posting of a copy of a letter sent to politicians in Washington D.C. from a very impressive group of economists supporting legislation to increase the minimum wage to....wait for it...$10.10/hr.

What Plane Speaker didn't say was that in this political fight, an equally impressive group of economists wrote their own letter to politicians in Washington arguing against a minimum wage increase. If you enjoy political screeds, you can see the letter here: Web Link.

How are we to judge? We are helpfully told by Plane Speaker that the economists who support a minimum wage increase are disinterested "scientists" who are tireless in their search for truth, while those economists on the other side are a bunch of hacks and corporate shills who are interested only in lining their pockets by spewing dishonest sophisms.

I'm really not interested in the politics of the issue - even when the political back and forth is a bunch of left wing economists vs a bunch of right wing economists.

I'm still kind of interested to know if anyone has a response to the outlandish claim that we could increase minimum wages towards 60% of the median wage without deleterious effects on the employment of the poor and unskilled (the original claim). A local $47.50/hr wage would solve a lot of social problems. Alas, apparently it really is outlandish or we wouldn't have seen such a hasty retreat from it when challenged with data.

For the record, there is lots of data and actual economic work done by economists (as opposed to political advocacy by actual economists) on the minimum wage - especially a minimum in the range of the $10.10 level brought up by the economists' letters. Generally, they find varying degrees of higher unemployment from minimum wage increases. (One relatively recent Survey paper found 85% of studies showing higher unemployment and 15% showing no higher unemployment. SeeWeb Link) The non partisan Congressional Budget Office specifically addressing the $10.10 proposal found it would result in a net loss of 500,000 jobs.Web Link... No word on what a $15/hr wage let alone Plane Speaker's $47.50 wage would do to unemployment.





3 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 10, 2016 at 7:36 pm

> Plane Speaker's $47.50 wage would do to unemployment.

Really, "my" $47.50? Where did I say that or agree with it ?
Maybe you can see why I don't follow the train of your conversation?
It's all about tricky dishonest rhetorical comments that go off the track.

600 well respected scientists, 7 of them Nobel laureates. (above)

Another thing I am sure you can figure out some humorous way to
spin this too:

Had the minimum wage been raised since 1968 at the
same rate as growth in productivity—i.e., the rate at which the
average worker can produce income for her employer from each
hour of work—it would be nearly $18.50 per hour.

Had the minimum wage been raised since 1968 at the
same rate as growth of real average wages —i.e., the average rate
at which the other worker's incomes rose hour of work—it would be
$10.91 per hour.

These would be national numbers, not just a local Palo Alto numbers.

It is interesting to note that as the minimum wage has gotten lower
in real terms that growth has slowed down and poverty has increased.


Like this comment
Posted by Let's face it
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 10, 2016 at 8:43 pm

We forgot to add good OL' Alan Greenspan to the list of notable economists. Remember where he led us in 2008?


3 people like this
Posted by Let's face it
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 10, 2016 at 8:51 pm

@ Mary

The discussion is about raising the minimum wage in Palo Alto to $15 not $47. If Businesses cannot handle that increase they should go out of business.


Like this comment
Posted by Wages, poverty, middle class
a resident of Ohlone School
on May 14, 2016 at 9:02 am

If you look at glassdoor, you can see some companies in the area that have in some way been ranked as the best to work for.

Some of these pay some software engineers (not interns!) an average of just over $15/ hour or $30K/year.

To require a non-skilled laborer to earn as much as a skilled, educated one is skewing the market and in some way rewarding those who have not gained a skill.

Is this a problem or not a problem?

I can see an argument that people gain a skill so they can pursue work they enjoy, not so they can earn more.

Equilibrium, and a kind of fairness, comes when compensation in the private sector reflects value added to the enterprise.

When the market for jobs is flooded by people because of demographic changes, things get complicated.


1 person likes this
Posted by Fact check
a resident of Midtown
on May 14, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Mary, please cite your source for the $95,000 median wage figure.
That sounds close to the median household income in 2014.

Web Link

Households often include multiple wage earners.


Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 15, 2016 at 10:01 am

Fact Check:Good catch. Thank you. You are right: I cited the figure from memory and it is indeed household income, not worker wage/salary information. I'm unaware of any source for localized information on wages and salary statistics.

It's hard to tease out a figure for wages from Household income, which as you point out can include more than one wage earner. (It includes also non wage income like government transfer payments and food stamps and investment income.)

If we take a relatively extreme case: all households have two earners earning exactly the same amount (and exclude non wage income), then we still get a 60% of median wage figure of about $24-25/hr. ... So I don't think the new calculations significantly vitiate the point about the unrealistic expectation that a 60% of median wage minimum wage would cause high unemployment. Plane speaker didn't cite a source for this claim so it's hard to know how much if any credence to give to it. In any event, it seems more problematic as the income distribution widens. (The Bay Area has a relatively high Gini coefficient for household income. I.e., large income inequality. Web Link)

The big problem I see from many progressives here, whose goals for helping low income workers I share, is the "Let them eat cake." attitude about those low skill workers who are thrown out of work by minimum wage increases. (I'm referring to Plane Speaker's comment, "that's what unemployment insurance is for" and Let's face it's comment that if employers can't handle a minimum wage boost they should go out of business. This attitude seems terribly ignorant of the needs of the working poor to me.) I don't believe the evidence broadly read supports the idea that large increases in the minimum wage can be implemented without deleterious effects on the poor. Policy makers (like the city council) seem to be operating more on ideological predilections than on evidence.....And this is like right wingers who want to eliminate all minimum wages and thinking that the market will optimize conditions for the poor.)


Like this comment
Posted by SRB
a resident of Mountain View
on May 15, 2016 at 12:23 pm

SRB is a registered user.

re: Fact Checking State Assembly candidates, Did Palo Alto actually "put a plan in place to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018" ?


3 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 15, 2016 at 10:14 pm

>> Plane speaker didn't cite a source for this claim so it's hard

It is easy to find with a search and I did not cite a source because I am not
going to pretend we are having a scholarly arguments, this is an internet
debate. Furthermore I cited the source merely to indicate that research has
been done which shows that a minimum wage of up to 60% of median
income has found to not be catastrophically disruptive to the local economy,
not to suggest that be the minimum wage.

I am only willing to put in so much effort on a Palo Alto Online Town
Square argument, especially when the editor seems to be biased against
certain points of view.

>> is the "Let them eat cake." attitude about those low skill workers who
>> are thrown out of work by minimum wage increases.

Is this one of your scholarly arguments? What scholarly source did you
use to find anything about what my attitude is about workers that lose
their jobs due to minimum wage going up? There is a whole stack of
assumptions you gloss over by turning this to a character attack.

>> I don't believe the evidence broadly read supports the idea that large
>> increases in the minimum wage can be implemented without
>> deleterious effects on the poor.

So, speaking to interpreting people's attitudes, I think it bespeaks much
more about your attitude on this issue that your argument is to support
the poor by giving them less pay. Based on this ... I have never seen one
post here in the Palo Alto Online outside of an issue that might might
raise pay or taxes where Conservatives go out of their way to suggest
some change or program to help the poor or struggling classes. Not one!

Comparing our two interpretations of each other's motives and character
I think I have hit on something much more substantial and intuitively
correct than your comment about me.

If you think that minimum wage hurts the poor, why don't you independently
post a few articles suggesting and backing up your suggestion that we
drop the minimum wage altogether? For the good of the poor, of course?

>> if employers can't handle a minimum wage boost they should go out of business.

As to this, I flatly just did not say it.

The real truth is that economics is not a science, it is an art, and a black art under
the interpretation of Conservatives, mostly used to baffle with BS and keep people
out of the conversation or dismiss their opinions.

The only real way to see what a $15 minimum wage increase is going to do in
Palo Alto, or any locale is to try it by implementing gradually over time and then
keeping track. I am sure this has been done before, but my everything I have
read on the subject have never shown what you call "deleterious effects on the poor."

One question though ... do you mean "deleterious effects on the poor." or
LONG-TERM or PERMANENT "deleterious effects on the poor"?

The question is what is deleterious? Do you have a value of minimum wage jobs per
thousand or something that is your target?


1 person likes this
Posted by Let's face it
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 15, 2016 at 10:30 pm

"I am only willing to put in so much effort on a Palo Alto Online Town
Square argument, especially when the editor seems to be biased against
certain points of view."

P.A. Online (and Facebook ) are notorious for this type of tactic.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

He said – she said – who is lying? Justice Brett Kavanaugh or PA resident Christine Ford
By Diana Diamond | 69 comments | 4,987 views

Let's Talk Internships
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 663 views

 

Race is tonight!

​On Friday, September 21, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run, or—for the first time—half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More