Labor Market Impacts of San Francisco’s Minimum Wage


In When Mandates Work, Michael Reich, Ken Jacobs, and Miranda Dietz, eds. University of California Press. January 2014.

In November 2003 San Francisco voters passed a ballot proposition to enact a minimum wage covering all employers in the city. The new standard set a minimum wage at $8.50 per hour—over 26 percent above the then-current California minimum wage of $6.75—and an annual adjustment for cost of living increases (reaching $10.55 in 2013). This standard, which first became effective in late February 2004, constituted the highest minimum wage in the United States and the first implemented universal municipal minimum wage in a major city. In a prospective study of this policy, Reich and Laitinen (2003) estimated that about 54,000 workers, amounting to 10.6 percent of the city’s workforce, would receive wage increases, either directly or indirectly, if such a policy were adopted and that the increased wage costs on average would amount to about 1 percent of business operating costs.