Sacramento needs to talk about raising the minimum wage
Four dollars and 25 cents.
That's what I took home every hour working my first job ever—at a bagel shop, the before-sunrise shift, with metalhead rocker and baker Mark, who used to joke about locking me in the walk-in oven as it roasted bagels. Anyway, $4.25. I was fine with the pay.
But it wasn't OK. The minimum wage in California is not OK.
It's currently $9 an hour, but is scheduled to bump up to 10 bucks in 2016. Even at that clip, a full-time minimum-wage employee—if you can get 40 hours a week—earns just over $20,000 a year. Basically, a minimum-wage employee is working their ass off to live in poverty.
This week's feature story by Sasha Abramsky looks at movements locally and nationally to increase the minimum to a living wage. Unlike in years past, however, the prospects of a living wage—say, $15—is very real.
At least in some cities. Election results were not final when I wrote this, but voters on the West Coast will likely adopt higher wages this week.
Here in Sacramento, though, there's zero hope for a wage increase on the horizon.
Meanwhile, the average CEO of America's top 350 domestic companies earned $24.8 million a year, according to the Economic Policy Institute. That's more than 510 times the amount of their average worker's wage. When I got my first job, the nation's top CEOs earned about 87 times more than their average worker.
Most of you have probably heard these numbers before. This isn't new stuff. But I wanted to throw them out there, again, because you're going to hear Chamber of Commerce types and politicians in the coming months say we can't afford to raise the minimum wage in Sacramento.
Don't believe it. Let's raise the bottom.