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Who Works Minimum Wage Jobs In San Diego?

Above: Debra Flores, an employee at Wendy's in downtown San Diego, stands amid protestors at a rally for an increase of the minimum wage, Aug. 29, 2013.

San Diego's low wage earners are mostly young, single Latinos or whites with limited educations, according to a study released Wednesday by the National University System Institute for Policy Research.

The study was done in light of efforts to raise San Diego's minimum wage beyond the state-mandated $8 per hour. City Council President Todd Gloria wants incremental increases to $13.09 an hour.

Using recently released data from the American Community Survey, the Institute for Policy Research found that about 28 percent of the roughly 691,000 wage earners 15 or older earn the equivalent of a full-time minimum wage salary, and 37 percent earn the equivalent of $11 an hour or lower.

More than half of low-wage workers are 30 years old or younger. Those 21 or younger make up 22 percent.

Latinos and whites together make up about 38 percent of the total, where Latinos are about 30 percent of the city population and 28 percent of the workforce.

Among low-wage workers, 31 percent are married while 57 percent have never been married. Fifty-two percent are women, even though women only make up 46 percent of the overall workforce.

The study found that while 59 percent of the working poor are renters, 27 percent pay a mortgage and 6 percent own a home free and clear. The rate of homeownership overall in the city is 48 percent, according to the study.

Restaurants, schools, colleges and universities employ the vast majority of low-wage workers in San Diego, according to the report. Among the lowest paid were cashiers, retail salespeople, cooks, waiters and waitresses, janitors, customer service representatives and personal care aides.

"San Diego's low wage earners are diverse, complex, and have varying levels of education and household income," the report said.

"Future references to low wage earners in policy debates should avoid painting the workforce in broad brush strokes, as that would egregiously ignore important nuances and differences among workers."

The study concluded more data was needed before economic policy changes are considered. Gloria hopes to place a referendum on raising the minimum wage on the November ballot.

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | May 22, 2014 at 7:33 a.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

no doubt the politicians are in favor of raising the minimum wage, they are already salivating over the tax money it will bring in.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | May 28, 2014 at 3:19 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Among the lowest paid were cashiers, retail salespeople, cooks, waiters and waitresses, janitors, customer service representatives and personal care aides.


And those jobs require little to no education.

So if we drastically raise the minimum wage, those with an education will begin taking those jobs leaving people with little to no education with NO job.

Then again, raising the minimum wage JUST in San Diego works to our advantage. Tax revenue goes up and we employ better educated/better qualified people while pushing out uneducated/poorly qualified people (hopefully they go far away from California).

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Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | May 28, 2014 at 7:51 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

What happened to paying your dues and sacrificing for an education or technical training. If you devalue the middle earners who often are the bulk of the working class how will that translate to more success for the uneducated, unmotivated, and unskilled? You simply cannot reward mediocrity and below. Thats a foolish business model. When in the world has anyone ever gone to their boss and said i brought nothing to the table now give me a huge raise?

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Avatar for user 'garbonzo'

garbonzo | June 4, 2014 at 4:27 p.m. ― 2 years, 8 months ago

To all those who are against a minimum wage raise:

Have you ever tried to live on minimum wage? If the minimum wage were a livable wage, nobody would be having this debate.

Most people in the U.S. (and around the world) are poor and cannot afford a good education that will lead to a good job. In fact, there are not enough good jobs to go around. Even in some hypothetical ideal society where everyone could get an education, most would not have a job. I have a PhD and had to compete with 500 other people with doctorate degrees to become a college professor. Many have earned college degrees and are now underemployed or working in the restaurant and retail industries for low wages--if they are lucky!

Your politics are boring and antiquated and do not account for human dignity. You would rather have the miniscule chance to get rich while everyone else stays poor. You and your ilk disgust me. I'd like to instate a maximum wage--just for you.


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