A Higher Minimum Wage—Should San Diego Lead the Way?


By: Dr. Lynn Reaser

ImageA proposal to boost San Diego’s minimum wage to $13.09 by July 2017 could be on November’s ballot.  While some workers would benefit, others, including students, may find a lot fewer jobs.  What impact would such an increase have on the region’s competitive position?

An increase that could put San Diego’s minimum wage 30% above California’s and as much as 80% higher than the U.S. level would impact the region’s competitiveness in industries, such as restaurants and hotels, that depend on larger numbers of entry-level, semi-skilled jobs.  Affected firms would be more likely to locate or expand elsewhere.

Because of its inherent higher cost of land and housing, San Diego will never be able to compete on the basis of cheap labor, nor would it want to.  Companies are increasingly focusing on the education of a region’s workforce, its infrastructure, collaborative networks, and quality of life.  These are areas where San Diego can excel and should work to strengthen.

 

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