Governor to increase minimum wage

Recently, the state senate approved bill Assembly Bill 10 which will call for the current state minimum wage to go from its current rate of $8 per hour to $9 per hour next year, and then up to $10 by 2016. Governor Jerry Brown has clearly stated he intends to sign the bill. 

“The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs,” said Brown in a statement on Sept. 9. “This legislation is overdue and will help families that are struggling in this harsh economy.”

Essentially, the goal of every student attending SSU is to graduate with a degree and begin a career. Like many other colleges a prevalent amount of students work jobs to support themselves while living near the colleges they attend. 

According to the 2013 College Student Pulse survey conducted by YouGov for Citi and Seventeen Magazine, four out of five college students work 19 hours a week in order to partially support themselves. Many students have endured difficulty trying to pay the bills while working these hours and being a full time student. 

“I had to take out a bunch of loans from FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) plus my own private loan from a different company. I even had to ask for help from my parents even though I really didn’t want to because I wanted to get through things on my own,” said former student Derrick Carbiener.  

According to a minimum wage calculator constructed by SSU alumna and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Amy Glasmeier and her students, the average cost of living for a single person in Sonoma County, including food, medical, housing, transportation, and a little spending money comes out to an approximate average of $22,229 per year. In order to pay that living wage an individual must make at least $10.69 per hour. 

 “I have been working at the same job for almost five years and I just recently got a raise up from the minimum wage. I feel things would have been a lot easier with an increase in my income,” said Carbiener.  

Many Sonoma County officials have analyzed what they believe will result from this increase. 

“In spite of the perceived and potential for negative impacts, I believe the increase in the minimum wage is warranted and long overdue,” said Rohnert Park Economic Development Manager Linda Babonis. “Since there will be an increase in purchasing power 

 

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(assuming this results in consumption versus savings), the circulation of more dollars in the economy would be good for business.” 

The last time California saw the minimum wage increase came in 2007 when the increase went from $6.75 an hour to $7.50. Then, in 2008 it topped out at its current $8 per hour. 

Rohnert Park Mayor Pam Stafford, though an avid supporter of the increase, feels that it should be done when the time is right. 

“I don’t feel that now is the right time to raise the minimum wage when too many businesses are laying off people,” Stafford said. “I absolutely feel that minimum wage should be what the economy can handle. If it cannot support it then I don’t know how you can make a number happen.”

Economics Professor Steven Cuellar, who has a specialization in labor economics, has studied the minimum wage extensively.

“Most studies show that increases in the minimum wage results in job losses, according to legitimate studies. There are stories showing that it has positive effects, but most of these studies have been discredited,” Cuellar said. “It’s pretty difficult to live off the minimum wage, but if you increase the minimum wage than you’re going to have to lay off people in order to pay that group of people. So what can you do?” 

Students are going to continue working these jobs until they find jobs that are “livable” after graduation. The minimum wage has become not just a way to measure pay, but a measure that students keep in mind while working to get a degree that may or may not allow them to get a more liveable wage.