San Francisco's Minimum Wage

San Francisco's Minimum Wage

Earlier this month I noted that, while Washington State's minimum-wage hike didn't seem to hurt job creation or overall unemployment, it may have increased unemployment for teens. Today I came across this piece claiming that San Francisco's minimum-wage hikes have been beneficial; the piece cites some complicated studies to that effect, but I wanted to do a reality check with the basic data.

San Francisco has been raising its minimum wage constantly since 2004. Here are the overall unemployment rates for the U.S., California, and San Francisco:

When the recession kicked in, San Francisco kept in line with the U.S. average while the rest of California suffered unusually high unemployment. And over the last couple of years, San Francisco has been returning to the pre-recession norm even faster than the rest of the country. 

Teen unemployment numbers are harder to track down, but unemployment in the 16-24 age bracket averaged about 14 percent in San Francisco in 2011, while it was above 17 percent nationally.

San Francisco's demographic makeup is not exactly typical, so we can't expect minimum-wage hikes to have the same effects there that they have elsewhere. But if repeated wage hikes have taken their toll on the San Francisco labor market, it's hard to see evidence of it.

Robert VerBruggen is editor of RealClearPolicy. Twitter: @RAVerBruggen

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