Minimum wage in Sunnyvale and the nation affects working class

By Skyler Sauer

Staff Writer

The minimum wage is a hotly debated topic nationally and one that affects the lives of citizens everywhere. Many decisions affecting minimum wage happen at many levels of government, each bringing new challenges to the table.

According to Mercury News, Sunnyvale has been raising its minimum wage significantly from $11 per hour due to the decisions of the Sunnyvale City Council. 

They continue with the fact that the minimum wage will be raised to $16.30 per hour in 2021 and higher due to predicted inflation in future years. These recent decisions have helped people that work for minimum wage and just above to stay afloat with the extremely high cost of living that comes with the Bay Area, according to bestplaces.net.

The majority of sources agree that an increase in the minimum wage at any level of government benefits everyone. Experts from NBC News said that an increase in minimum wage “can help mitigate employer costs” and that it would help workers.

While Sunnyvale and many of its surrounding neighbors have taken on this change, the nation as a whole has yet to push such action. 

On the national level, this issue is discussed in every election including the most recent, yet according to the Department of Labor, the federal minimum wage has stayed steady at $7.25 for the past 11 years. This lack of change combined with inflation and increased cost of living across the nation cause problems for the working class.

While this low federal minimum wage most affects the 29 states where it is used, something called the spillover effect means that individuals or places that have wages similar to that of the original minimum are more likely to receive an increase when that minimum is raised.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and its consumer price index, the cost of essentials like and energy have gone up 1.6%. This is a low number but compounding over 11 years, experts say wages must rise to meet the increased cost of living.

Sources agree that this nationwide increase in cost of living and a lack of proportional response has led to higher poverty rates and a shrinking middle class. 

In Sunnyvale, all of these problems are exacerbated by the housing crisis, job shortages, etc. but the Sunnyvale City Council has managed to keep up with the times and help its residents stay competitive.

A local teenager, Ella Chen, said in an interview that “minimum wage jobs really exemplifies the disrespect people have for food service workers”, specifically when referring to how people treat COVID-19 restriction in businesses operated by minimum wage workers. She explained that the higher minimum wage helped compensate for the lack of caring from customers.

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