Remember: minimum wage makes it illegal to hire people who aren’t worth minimum wage.
Consider San Francisco, an early adopter of the $15 wage. It’s now experiencing a restaurant die-off, minting jobless hash-slingers, cashiers, busboys, scullery engineers and line cooks as they get pink-slipped in increasing numbers. And the wage there hasn’t yet hit $15.
As the East Bay Times reported in January, at least 60 restaurants around the Bay Area had closed since September alone.
U.S. Census Bureau data show about 21 percent of workers in Bakersfield earned from $8 to $12 per hour in 2015, the most recent year for which data was available. In Fresno, 32 percent of workers were in that wage group, and in Modesto about 25 percent. Contrast that with Santa Clara County, home of Silicon Valley, which registered only 12.5 percent at that level.
The state’s diverse unemployment rates tell a similar tale. Unemployment in Bakersfield was 9.5 percent; 8.8 percent in Fresno, and Stanislaus County notched 7.9 percent. Compare that to Silicon Valley’s unemployment rate – 3.2 percent
“Part of our whole concern with (the $15 wage) is it’s a one-size-fits-all,” Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable, told The Sacramento Bee last year. “Areas with double-digit unemployment, this is scaring them to death.”
We forget the utopian visions of Silicon Valley can only be supported by the gobs and gobs of cash being rained down on that tiny little region–and the rest of California simply cannot support this sort of clean, white, “Star Trek”-like vision.
Just as we forget that minimum wage–originally designed as a way to make it illegal to hire “marginal workers” such as blacks and poor whites, who were seen at the time as dragging the economy down–makes it illegal to hire someone whose work product is worth less than the minimum.
A fact forgotten by the software developers and venture capitalists and lawyers and doctors who comfortably zoom around in their Mercedes and BMWs from their air-conditioned condos and houses with carefully manicured lawns to their artfully sculpted office compounds, untouched by the world around them.