Local Cities Consider Minimum Wage Hikes

On October 27, in a 5-2 vote, the city council of Mountain View agreed to increase its minimum wage to $15 by the end of 2018. Mountain View will implement the raise in phases, starting at its current minimum wage of $10.30 an hour.

The first phase will occur on January 1, raising the minimum wage to $11. From there, the city will increase the wage by $2 on the first day of each year until a minimum wage of $15 is reached.

“There are many factors that a policy maker has to consider when making these decisions,” Mountain View City Council member Ken Rosenberg said. “Even though an issue may be ‘simple’ on the surface, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find all kinds of consequences to decisions.”

The state minimum wage is $10. As part of a larger Bay Area municipal movement, Mountain View chose to exceed California’s base-rate minimum wage levels. The decision to raise minimum wage comes with positive intentions from the City Council.

“[The goal of raising minimum wage] is to boost wages of lowest-paid workers and help offset the high cost of living,” Mountain View City Council member John Inks said.

Despite the good intentions, there has been significant resistance on increasing minimum wage. Local businesses, customers and the California Restaurant Association are weary of rising labor and product costs.

“[For example, if you raise minimum wage from] $9 to $10, it is an 11 percent increase in labor cost,” Inks said. “Many small businesses operate on very thin profit margins, say 4-5 percent. Higher overall costs impose enormous pressure on small businesses, especially restaurants and services.”
As for students of the school, these hikes may persuade them to work in a city other than Los Altos.

“[I think most people would] be more inclined to work in Mountain View rather than Los Altos because of pay differences,” said senior Katie Ho, who works at a restaurant in Mountain View. “But in the end, I [work] to gain experience and the money is just a perk.”

Looking toward the future, Mountain View will look to push their minimum wage even higher.

“[While the goal is] to more accurately align wages with the high cost of living in our area, $15 per hour by 2018 will likely be insufficient to do that,” Rosenberg said.