Impact of higher minimum wage would be widespread in Valley

March 28, 2016 1:39pm

•  New University of the Pacific study shows most impacted jobs and counties

•  “The biggest differences are within occupations”

California will increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next six years, starting with a 50-cent increase next January and increases every year thereafter until the $15 level is reached on January 1, 2022, under a plan announced Monday by lawmakers and the governor.

The proposed minimum wage increase in California to $15 an hour by 2022 could have a profound impact on much of the Central Valley, according to a report Monday from the University of the Pacific’s Center for Business and Policy research.

In many counties that the Pacific student includes – from Sutter and Yuba in the north through Merced in the South -- particularly those with a heavy dependence on agriculture and tourism, approximately 50 percent of current jobs have wages that would be affected by the legislation.

By comparison, in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley just 25 percent to 30 percent of workers would be affected, although many of these jobs will be impacted by local minimum wage ordinances even in the absence of statewide action.

Merced County would see nearly six out of ten residents – 59.73 percent – impacted by the law, the most of any of the 21 counties included in the study.

“Overall, we estimate 36.9 percent of all jobs across the Northern California megaregion will be affected,” the report says.

While the jobs impacted by the rising wage floor are varied, the most significant impact is by age, where 77 percent of jobs held by those under the age of 25 would be affected by a minimum wage increase, about three times the share of jobs held by those over 35, the report says.

“Nearly 57 percent of Hispanic workers would be affected, compared to 26 percent of white workers,” it says.

There’s another sharp difference, the UOP study says.

“The biggest differences are within occupations. Over 90 percent of farmworkers, food preparation and servers have current wages that would be impacted. More than two-thirds of workers in personal care and service, cleaning and maintenance service occupations would also be affected,” the report says.

Least impacted would be jobs in the computer and mathematical industries where 6.7 percent could see mandated pay increases. Ditto management, where only 6.9 percent of jobs would be affected.

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