In the largest minimum wage jump in the United States, the city of San Jose will increase the income for the lowest-wage workers to $10 per hour starting Monday. The increase passed with 59% of the vote in November. Ben Field, executive officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, and Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association, wrote for the Mercury News that economic analysis shows the increase will add $70 million to the city's economy, as consumers will have more money to spend on local businesses.
San Jose business owner Chuck Hammers, who runs Pizza My Heart, gave his employees the raise in advance of the required raise on Monday. He says he's very pleased with the results and is considering raising his lowest wages to $10 at restaurants he owns outside of San Jose.
Field and Knies write:
Hammers says he sees happier employees and a higher quality of job applicants than ever before. The best employees from his restaurants in other cities clamor to work in San Jose.
Rep. Mike Honda (D), who represents San Jose in Congress, applauded the move:
In providing the largest jump in the minimum wage in America, Silicon Valley once again shows that it is a national leader. As California did not wait until the federal government acted on the environment, health care or immigration, San Jose did not wait to ensure a livable wage. Nor could they, according to the 2013 Silicon Valley Index: Homelessness grew 20 percent in two years and the number of people on food stamps hit a 10-year high.
This is exactly the kind of leadership President Barack Obama was calling for in his State of the Union pitch to raise the minimum wage. The South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council and the San Jose Downtown Association should be lauded for their collaboration to promote businesses on an ethical basis. Together, they offer a successful case study for how this country can create the kind of change for which the President called.
Americans may not know this country’s minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is lower now than it was in the late 1960s. Or that in the past 40 years wealth and income growth stagnated for the majority of Americans. Or that one of two Americans now live in poverty or low-income. In Silicon Valley, we are reversing these trends, lifting people out of poverty and bridging the yawning income inequality gap. This is what leadership looks like.
Businesses in San Jose paying higher wages will start to post signs that read "Earn 'n' Spend in San Jose" to raise awareness about the measure and to boost sales.