UC Berkeley study highlights benefits of proposed San Francisco minimum wage increase

Although The City is in the midst of an economic boom, income inequality has increased as well — but that could change should voters approve an initiative on the November ballot that would raise San Francisco's minimum wage to $15 by 2018, according to a study released Wednesday by UC Berkeley researchers.

The study, one in a series on minimum-wage laws in the U.S. by the school's Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, indicates that should Proposition J pass, about 23 percent of San Francisco's labor workforce — some 142,000 workers — would receive a pay raise.

“Employment is growing at a robust rate, but The City's robust growth hasn't resulted in shared prosperity for its residents,” said Ken Jacobs, chairman of the labor center and a co-author of the study.

Additionally, 26 percent of female workers and 21 percent of male workers would receive a raise, as would more than three-fourths of working-poor families in San Francisco, according to the study.

Jacobs said he was surprised to find a “relative high share [of workers] with educational backgrounds” would benefit from the minimum wage increase as well — 59 percent of affected workers have some college education and 26 percent have a bachelor's degree or higher.

But Michael Saltsman, research director at the Washington, D.C.-based Employment Policies Institute, was quick to issue a rebuttal, saying that numerous studies since the early 1990s suggested minimum-wage increases actually result in job losses.

“The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, San Francisco's Office of Economic Analysis, and the vast majority of unbiased economic studies all confirm that a higher minimum wage will indeed reduce job opportunities for the least-experienced employees,” Saltsman said in a statement.