The Impact of Oakland’s Proposed City Minimum Wage Law

A Prospective Study

The Lift Up Oakland Coalition, an alliance of community, labor, small business and faith organizations, has placed an initiative on the Oakland November 2014 ballot that would establish a minimum wage of $12.25 for businesses in the city starting March 1, 2015. This study examines the effects of a $12.25 minimum wage on Oakland workers and businesses.

Drawing on a variety of government data sources, we estimate that more than a quarter of the Oakland workforce would benefit from the proposed policy, with the average worker earning an additional $2,700 a year. Our analysis of the existing economic research literature suggests that businesses will adjust to modest increases in operating costs through reduced employee turnover costs, improved work performance, and a small, one-time increase in restaurant prices.