Over the past 15 years, the city of San Francisco has given us evidence of what happens when we raise the pay and benefits of low-wage workers. Is it doom and destruction or the city of Oz?
(Photo Credit: jeffgunn/Flickr)
In the 1990s, San Francisco enacted numerous laws to raise pay, improve benefits, expand healthcare access, and extend paid sick leave for the city’s workers. Fifteen years later, the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment says the mandate worked, and those who live and work in San Francisco are enjoying pay and benefits that go against the current national trend.
Sorry to disappoint the all the “job creators” sitting on their piles of wealth, but San Francisco has shown the way to improve the economy is get off your pile of wealth and spread it around. Rather than becoming a ghost town because businesses just couldn’t afford to stay in business, San Francisco is thriving and has caused other cities to follow suit, including Seattle, San Jose, and Washington, D.C.. Chicago and New York are also looking to adopt San Francisco’s higher wages and better benefits laws.
Theory Versus Reality
Some economists still claim that by using money to lift people out of poverty, we will destroy the economy. However, when we look at cities and neighborhoods that have enacted laws to close the gap between the rich and the poor by paying workers more, it seems perhaps these prophets of doom are mistaken.
Why? When people can afford to purchase goods and services, they patronize the businesses that offer, well, goods and services. Then, instead of going out of business, those employers (who own businesses that sell goods and services) have to hire more people — and pay them. It works in San Francisco, and it can work in your city, too.
Now, can we please just raise the minimum wage on the federal level?
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