(9/12/2013, Los Alamitos)Dave here. When our Highlands Guy e-mailed me today’s column, he mentioned that “today’s piece is out of left field a bit. Should generate some comments from those on both sides of the aisle.
HG’s proposal certainly caught me by surprise. Read on. . .
by Highlands Guy: There are all sorts of thing that impact our local economy.
Everything from wars or potential wars, to political agendas, to the housing market, to off-shore manufacturing, to local tax rates, to the city’s ability to fund public servant retirees, and on and on. How these and other factors affect us on a daily basis is a bit problematic.
I would put the minimum wage into this category, and further, suggest that, as a city, we should support a city imposed minimum wage for folks who work in Los Al.
According to researchers, (sfpublicpress.org/news/2013-04) a higher minimum wage encourages workers to keep and perform better at their jobs. The author notes, “When you retain workers, productivity increases.” And broader economic and fiscal benefits of a higher wage include less reliance on food stamps, Medicaid and other public benefits, as well as more spendable income that happens near the workplace. And remember this is irrespective of the employee’s country of origin, age, education, or family circumstances.
Just to put things into a little perspective, let’s look at where we are in relationship to the rest of U.S. The California minimum wage is at $8.00, and may increase, for most full-time (40hr work week) positions.
This puts California above the federal standard of $7.25 along with almost half of the country. 18 states are above the minimum, 4 are below and 5 have not established any parameters. The federal standard has, through 2012, been just below the national average, $7.25 to $7.49. Washington is on top at $9.19.
Not much, you must admit. And no, I am not talking about raising a family on it, or expecting more than just entry level pay for an entry level job. But I firmly believe that just a little more per hour could have far reaching benefits, from a mom being able to have their kid in the marching band to a student being able to afford one more class at CSULB.
And I’ll bet, if publicized, it will increase business. It will bring in lots of folks who have “been there” and those that think it’s just the right thing to do.
While there are a myriad of gradations related to who is and who is not covered, overlapping jurisdictional controls, and an endless, Larry Elder type, debate on its effects on the economy, I believe the overall impact of a city imposed minimum wage will be positive.
I am not proposing the amorphous, “living wage”, but one that seems reasonable to most of our neighbors. Obviously, we could include, exclude, or make a special category for various groups like students, those on a commission, or in those that fall under “tip credit.”
What about the impact on teens?
When this type of legislation is proposed, one of the comments that is made is that teens are highly negatively impacted. A study by the Economic Policy Institute noted that that is not the case. What affect teen’s jobs is more related to older folks being hired by employers, and who keep the low wage jobs longer.
Further evidence was proffered by a U. C. study that found the bottom line to teen jobs was related to outside economic factors since they are the last hired and first fired. And it is compounded when adults compete in a scarce job market.
A skewed perspective?
Those of us living in Los Alamitos probably have a bit of a skewed perspective of the impact of a minimum wage life-style; I would offer that a robust minimum wage is a key building block of sustainable economic recovery. While we are looking for place to spend our money, there needs to be some relationship with those who are on the other end of the buy/sell spectrum.
A National Employment Law Project Briefing Paper (Jan 2011), indicated that even before the recession our economy was shifting with significant losses in higher-wage industries. And workers who lost construction and manufacturing jobs turned to retail and other lower wage positions. And to put a fine point on this aspect, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the growth occupations for the next decade will be customer service representative, retail sales, office clerks, and home care aids, among others.
Realize that consumer spending is the engine that powers our domestic economy, comprising 70% of GDP. Raising the minimum wage is a key strategy to boosting the consumer spending without worsening the state or federal budget deficits. A November 2010 study by economists at the University of Massachusetts definitively showed that higher minimum wages did not cause job or business losses.
Research has documented that the reduced cost for recruiting, re-training and re-staffing are far more than the increased wages. Seems like a win-win to me. The success of this business model can be seen at Costco and Sam’s Club.
I know all the reasons lobed against a minimum wage, and most of them from folks who have worked hard and risen on the socio-economic ladder. But they fail to even bring up in the same conversation how many have succeeded by sending jobs off-shore, by banking federal tax credits, by having their agricultural asses saved by getting paid ‘not to plant’, and by writing off losses.
Let’s bring it down to the micro level. Spend an additional dollar for a really good California roll along Los Alamitos Blvd, and not only will you enjoy your dinner, but you’ll be helping out the local economy. I guess the bottom line is, it’s our city, and we need to explore the alternatives that could impact our economic balance. I would like to be associated with a city that is viewed as ‘progressive.’ Remember we are in control of our future. Take a stand.
“Radical thought has inspired many of the great political and social reform movements in American history, from ending slavery to establishing the minimum wage”
-Carl Bernstein (1944-) Investigative journalist and author. Helped Post earn Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, 1973.
As always, your perspective, diplomatically expressed, is encouraged.