San Francisco was also one of the first cities to increase the minimum wage beyond the federal level and mandate better benefits for low-income workers. The wage increase went into effect in 2004, long before the notion of one percenters and the recent wave of wage protests by fast-food and retail workers. And now everyone from President Obama to Fox News star Bill O’Reilly is talking about raising the federal minimum wage.
Bloomberg Businessweek reports on the growing movement to increase the minimum wage, citing findings from the new book, When Mandates Work: Raising Labor Standards at the Local Level. Using San Francisco as a case study, the book’s editors found no evidence that a higher minimum wage harmed the local economy. In fact, they found that “from 2004 to 2011 overall private employment grew 5.6 percent in San Francisco and 3 percent in Santa Clara County.” While San Francisco did see a small increase in food prices compared to other companies, one of the book’s editors Ken Jacobs points out that most businesses saved money because they were able to retain employees for longer.