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San Jose approves a $15 minimum wage by 2019

November 16, 2016

On Tuesday, the San Jose City Council voted unanimously to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 by 2019, three years before the state of California reaches that standard.

San Jose — the 10th largest city in the nation and the capital of Silicon Valley — now joins five other Santa Clara County cities in acting on an unprecedented regional approach to jointly raise the wage.

In response to public pressure from Silicon Valley Rising, community allies and elected officials leading on the issue, thirteen cities in Santa Clara County endorsed a plan in June to enact $15 minimum wages by 2019, three years before the State of California reaches that level. This is the first region-wide approach to raising the minimum wage in the nation. Cupertino, Los Altos, and Palo Alto have since voted for $15 by 2019, and Mountain View and Sunnyvale will get there even sooner in 2018.

As the largest city in Santa Clara County, San Jose’s vote adds momentum to the regional plan. If adopted by every city in the County, this groundbreaking wage standard would give raises to 250,000 workers, putting $800 million more in their pockets each year and boosting the gross domestic product of the nine-county area by $314 million every year, according to a report by the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Council voted 10-0 to raise the minimum wage to $12 on July 1, 2017; $13.50 on January 1, 2018; and $15 on January 1, 2019. After that future wage increases will be indexed to the inflation rate. The ordinance excludes youth in job training programs that last for 120 days or less.

On the heels of votes in four states to raise their minimum wages (Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington), Silicon Valley's action to raise the wage shows that outside of Washington, DC, there is powerful momentum for policies that address both economic and racial inequality and strengthen workplace standards.