Poverty is concentrated in communities of color because of years of institutional racism. Working people of color are more than 3 times more likely than white workers to live in poverty.
Raising the minimum wage can, and will, lift families out of poverty and improve equity.
If the national minimum wage had simply kept up with the rate of productivity since 1960 – it would already be more than $22 per hour right now. This means that we used to pay workers an equivalent of a $22 minimum wage in the past, factoring in what the cost of living looked like years ago.
Yet while wages have remained flat, the cost of living has skyrocketed – for example, California home prices have risen by 68% in the past 9 years.
We must match wages to productivity beginning with an increase to $22 per hour, and work towards $25 per hour by 2025.
The largest employers – who can easily afford to give their workers a raise – employ the most low wage workers. Some of these giant corporations are essentially subsidized by the taxpayers, with their workers earning so little that they need public benefits like food assistance. In fact, during the first 11 months of the pandemic, the wealth of US billionaires, who own many of these large corporations, increased by $1.3 trillion, while our communities suffered.
By creating a true living wage, California will ultimately generate billions of dollars in new tax revenues as workers enter the middle class, pay more in taxes, and leave public assistance programs.
Recognizing that many very small businesses will continue to struggle in the post-pandemic recovery period, we also believe that California should use some of its current $15 billion budget surplus to assist very small businesses that are burdened by a wage increase so they can stay competitive while paying their workers a living wage.
2. https://www.labor.ca.gov/wp content/uploads/sites/338/2021/02/ca-future- of-work-report.pdf