San Diego’s low wage earners are mostly young, single Latinos or whites with limited education, according to a study by the National University System Institute for Policy Research.
The study was done in light of efforts to raise San Diego’s minimum wage beyond the state-mandated $8 per hour. City Council President Todd Gloria has proposed incremental increases to $13.09 an hour, a plan which could go before voters this fall.
Using recently released data from the American Community Survey, the institute found that about 28 percent of the roughly 691,000 wage earners 15 or older earn the equivalent of a full-time minimum wage salary, and 37 percent earn the equivalent of $11 an hour or lower.
Here’s some key findings about them:
- 55 percent are 30 years old and younger, and 22 percent are 21 or younger;
- Latinos and whites together make up about 38 percent of the total, where Latinos are about 30 percent of the city population and 28 percent of the workforce;
- 11 percent have limited English-speaking skills;
- 31 percent are married and 57 percent have never been married;
- 40 percent have a high school diploma or less; and
- 52 percent are women, even though the overall workforce is 46 percent female.
The study found that while 59 percent of the working poor are renters, 27 percent pay a mortgage and 6 percent own a home free and clear. The rate of homeownership overall in the city is 48 percent, according to the researchers.
Restaurants, schools, colleges and universities employ the vast majority of low-wage workers in San Diego, according to the report. Among the lowest paid were cashiers, retail salespeople, cooks, waiters and waitresses, janitors, customer service representatives and personal care aides.
“San Diego’s low wage earners are diverse, complex, and have varying levels of education and household income,” the author of the report wrote. “Future references to low wage earners in policy debates should avoid painting the workforce in broad brush strokes, as that would egregiously ignore important nuances and differences among workers.”
The study concluded more data was needed before economic policy changes are considered.
Gloria hopes to place a referendum on raising the minimum wage on the November ballot.
– City News Service
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