Sunday Commentary II: Why Walmart’s Pay Increase Matters

Walmart

The reaction to Walmart’s announcement last week that they were raising their wages for about half-million employees to at least $9 an hour by April and at least $10 by next February, was mixed at best.

Advocates for a $15 an hour minimum wage were quick to call the pay increase “inadequate.” Fortune calculated that employees would have to work about 2.8 million hours at $9 per hour to reach the $25.6 million that Walmart CEO Doug McMillon received in 2014.

“For roughly 500,000 Walmart workers set to receive pay raises, something is better than nothing,” Josh Bloak of the Associated Press wrote on Friday. “But it still won’t be enough for many of them to afford housing and transportation and feed and raise children without government aid, according to economists and researchers.”

He added, “Despite the raise, incomes for many Walmart workers would still hover near the poverty line, reinforcing an image that some more socially-minded consumers find offensive.”

However amid that skepticism are some very hopeful signs both within Walmart and nationally.

The New York Times reported this week, “The pay raise also signals that a tightening job market — with the unemployment rate now at 5.7 percent, compared with 9.8 percent five years ago, is leading to higher wages.” That is of course good news overall for the US economy and the low levels that until now have not seen the economic recovery like other sectors. “The wage bump by Walmart, which has long been a pay laggard, could simply mean that wage increases are finally an inevitability for low-wage workers in America.”

“We’re finally going to see a wage creep, and Walmart is trying to get out in front,” Ann C. Hodges, a labor relations expert at the University of Richmond to the Times. “They’re thinking: We’re probably going to do this anyway.”

But there is another angle to this as well: “Walmart has had significant trouble retaining employees in a job market where its competitors like Costco Wholesale offer better wages.”

When CEO McMillon announced the changes, he seemed to acknowledge some of the criticism of the company.

“We have work to do to grow the business. We know what customers want from a shopping experience, and we’re investing strategically to exceed their expectations and better position Walmart for the future,” he said. “We’re strengthening investments in our people to engage and inspire them to deliver superior customer experiences.”

At the same time, Walmart appears to be a lagging indicator. The Times reports, “Walmart lags behind major retailers like Gap and Ikea, which have moved recently to set hourly wages at or above $9, to try to reduce turnover and attract more workers. Even those higher pay scales fall short of compensation offered by Costco, known to offer wages closer to $20 an hour, or the Container Store.

“But Walmart’s move could force other major retailers like Target and Home Depot to follow suit. Kroger pays its cashiers $7.26 to $11.99 an hour, according to PayScale, a company that collects data on salaries. Target pays its cashiers $7.42 to $10.09, and Home Depot pays its sales associates $7.90 to $11.16, according to PayScale.”

This kind of competition figures to benefit low wage earners at a time when labor advocates are gearing up for major pushes on minimum wage.

The Times notes, “Aside from competitive pressure to hire and retain low-wage workers, political pressure for higher wages has been building. Several states and cities have raised the minimum wage far beyond the federal minimum. Seattle, for example, raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour, and San Francisco approved a tiered approach to reach $15 in a few years.

“Twenty-nine states now exceed the federal minimum, which has not risen since 2007, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. President Obama has proposed raising it to $10.10 an hour, but that effort has stalled in Congress.”

A spokesman for the White House said, “Today’s announcement is another example of businesses, along with cities and states, taking action on their own to raise wages for their workers, recognizing that doing so can raise productivity, reduce turnover and improve morale.”

Will the decision by Walmart alleviate the pressure for further minimum wage increases or increase the pressure? The place to watch on this front is right here in our backyards.

The Vanguard reported back in December that local labor leaders will push for voters to approve a $15 an hour minimum wage in Davis and Sacramento.

Meanwhile at the state level, Mark Leno is once again pushing for SB 3 which would increase California’s minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2017. Senate Bill 3 would raise the state’s minimum wage to $11 an hour in 2016 and $13 in 2017, after a similar measure unexpectedly failed last year.

“Hard-working, full-time employees across California are forced to live in poverty and rely on public assistance just to put food on the table for their families,” said Senator Leno. “This income inequality crisis, which disproportionately impacts women and children, is detrimental to our communities and the economy. It is time to accelerate the minimum wage and give low-income workers the respect they deserve for a job well done.”

“The cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco have led the way by raising the minimum wage for its workers and making sure their hard work is rewarded with fair pay,” said Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León, principal co-author of SB 3. “Raising incomes for millions of Californians will reduce poverty and provide them a better shot at the American Dream. Senator Leno’s measure will make sure this opportunity is real for all of California’s minimum wage workers.”

This week supporters of SB 3 thought they had a major coup as a letter from seven big city mayors urged passage of the bill arguing: “California has the highest poverty rate in the nation with nearly 10 million Californians living in need according to recent US Census Bureau estimations. As mayors, we see the impact of this economic disparity first-hand. Raising the state minimum wage will improve conditions for millions of Californians while at the same time boosting our local economies. A statewide increase would help lift working families out of poverty and indexing the wage to inflation insures greater stability for local businesses by ensuring that real wages remain consistent.”

The letter was signed by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, Ed Lee of San Francisco, Libby Schaaf of Oakland, Miguel Pulido of Santa Ana, Sam Liccardo of San Jose and Kevin Johnson of Sacramento.

However, Mayor Johnson this week stated that he wants his signature deleted, calling it a “miscommunication.”

“The mayor’s been very clear where he is on this issue,” said spokesman Ben Sosenko. “This was a staff miscommunication.”

Apparently he opposes a “one-size-fits-all” approach to minimum wage, stating that what works in San Francisco may not work in Sacramento.

The impact of Walmart’s decision will be to put pressure on other retailers to raise their wages to keep pace and that upward pressure will close the gap between the $10 an hour offered by Walmart to the $13 proposed by Senator Leno, to the $15 favored by labor leaders.

As an LA Times editorial puts it this morning, “when a company like Wal-Mart — which has 1.3 million workers across the United States and has made low pay part of its business model — says it’s OK with higher wages, that should be a sign to Congress that it’s politically safe to raise the federal minimum wage.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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68 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary II: Why Walmart’s Pay Increase Matters”

  1. Jeff Boone

    The comment by the LA Times in the last paragraph (btw, copy/paste does not work on the VG on my iPad), is crap.  It is a sign that that paper has leftist bias so far up its editorial arse that anything and everthing that has any political or ideological connection should be dismissed.

    Walmart responds to the labor market and raises wages, and this is a sign that it is ok for government do raise wages void of consideration of the labor market?  No.  Not at all.  It is exactly the oposite.   Walmart raises wages and this is an exact and indisputable piece of evidence that government needs to stay out of the setting of wages.

    The only thing government should do is to implement economic, tax and regulatory policy that helps grow the economy so there are plentiful jobs.  With a greater supply of jobs companies will have to increase wages to attract qualified employees.

    It is so simple to understand that those pushing for minimim wage increases are clearly labeled as ideologues or else too ignorant on economics to be allowed a seat at the table to debate the topic.

  2. Anon

    I want to segue onto what Jeff has said.  Walmart increasing its wages because it is losing good employees to stores that pay their employees more is a completely separate issue from whether or not to raise the minimum wage.  IMO raising the minimum wage does nothing for the low income, because companies are just going to pass along the extra cost of paying a higher minimum wage to the customer, including low income customers who can least afford it.  Secondly, if CA goes it alone, that makes it that much more unaffordable to live here. Thirdly, raising the minimum wage will result in fewer low paying jobs.  Somehow I don’t think raising the minimum wage is getting at the root of the poverty problem.

    1. Jim Frame

      Thirdly, raising the minimum wage will result in fewer low paying jobs

      From an article in the the October 27, 2014 issue of The Nation (http://www.thenation.com/article/181914/score-does-minimum-wage-kill-jobs):

      Taking stock of all the conflicting research on the topic suggests the former: employment is unlikely to suffer from a higher wage. In 2009, Hristos Doucouliagos and T.D. Stanley published a paper that reviewed sixty-four studies and found that when the studies’ findings were averaged out, the impact of raising the minimum wage on employment was close to zero. Also, the most statistically precise studies were the likeliest to find no impact. Increasing the wage by 10 percent could reduce employment by a mere 0.1 percent.

      1. Frankly

        You can cherry pick any study to back your views, but the majority of economists and the OMB and the CBO all agree that we lose jobs when the minimum wage is increased.

        And in fact, this is just economic common sense.  I really have a hard time believing anyone that arguing that a rise in minimum wage does not result in lost jobs has a clue.

    2. David Greenwald Post author

      ” IMO raising the minimum wage does nothing for the low income, because companies are just going to pass along the extra cost of paying a higher minimum wage to the customer, including low income customers who can least afford it. ”

      That’s one possibility. However, the market really dictates cost of products and if the market cannot bear the increase costs, or if some places don’t raise their prices, the competition will sort that out. So I don’t think it’s as clear cut as you do. As noted, a lot of other companies particularly Costco and Starbucks pay their employees far better than Walmart and managed to be profitable.

      On your second point, part of the point that Kevin Johnson made is that one size does not fit all, California has often had a higher minimum wage than other states because the cost of living is higher.

      On your third point, the research that I have read is more mixed, it suggests that the labor force contracts initially and then expands.

    3. Matt Williams

      IMO raising the minimum wage does nothing for the low income, because companies are just going to pass along the extra cost of paying a higher minimum wage to the customer, including low income customers who can least afford it.

      The proponents of an increased minimum wage have argued that the increased wages applies to each dollar earned currently by a low income wage earner, while the increased costs of items only applies to the items that those low income wage earners actually purchase … and that the former significantly outweighs the latter. What are your thoughts about that argument?

  3. Tia Will

    Anon

    I want to segue onto what Jeff has said.  Walmart increasing its wages because it is losing good employees to stores that pay their employees more is a completely separate issue from whether or not to raise the minimum wage.  IMO raising the minimum wage does nothing for the low income, because companies are just going to pass along the extra cost of paying a higher minimum wage to the customer, including low income customers who can least afford it.”

    What this analysis is missing is that no one is making the Walmarts’ of the world pass on the extra cost. They are simply allowed to do so since the government will step in and give assistance to the workers that they are not paying enough to live on. Thus we, as taxpayers, are in effect subsidizing the salaries of the CEOs of these companies by in effect saying, “That’s all right, we will make up the difference in what you should be paying your workers, namely a living wage, so that you can enjoy all the extravagant benefits of being a CEO.

    This is just another example of our societal willingness to pay those who have reached the top of the economic ladder while holding those at the lower end down, all the while complaining about how we have to support those unfortunate enough to be at the bottom rung. Our willingness to subsidize the rich while lambasting the poor is at least one root of our poverty problem.

  4. Anon

    What this analysis is missing is that no one is making the Walmarts’ of the world pass on the extra cost. They are simply allowed to do so since the government will step in and give assistance to the workers that they are not paying enough to live on.

    Okay, so are you advocating that the gov’t not step in and subsidize low income workers, so that the Walmarts of the world don’t get the idea there will be gov’t subsidies for these employees?

    This is just another example of our societal willingness to pay those who have reached the top of the economic ladder while holding those at the lower end down...”

    Whoa, back the proverbial truck up!  Often low income workers did not go to college, do not have great employment skills, etc.  Those who went to medical school, law school, graduate school, or took up Information Technology training did so in part because they knew it would give them a good living and they expect to get reimbursed for that training and extra hard work to get it.  There was also a story in Feb 20, 2015 The Week, which told about a gas station attendant who lived frugally and died at the age of 92, leaving a $6 million dollar estate to the local library and hospital.   Income inequality is a complex issue.  The other side of the coin is the enormously obscene salaries paid to CEOs of financial institutions that were bailed out by gov’t, rock stars who can’t sing worth a crap, etc.

    1. Tia Will

      Okay, so are you advocating that the gov’t not step in and subsidize low income workers, so that the Walmarts of the world don’t get the idea there will be gov’t subsidies for these employees?”

      No. I am advocating nothing of the kind. What I am advocating is exactly what I have posted again and again. I recommend a system in which everyone is compensated by the hour spent doing whatever it is that they do to contribute to our country. I believe that every child who stays in school should be compensated for their time. Every student who goes to college and ends up as a doctor, lawyer or engineer should be compensated for the hours they spent learning their trade. I believe that every field worker and garbage collector and nurses’ aide should be compensated just the same for every hour they have spent doing their job. If we are talking about contributions to our society, ask yourself which would cause a more rapid deterioration of our quality of life, if a lawyer or doctor stops doing their job, or if all garbage collection stops, or if their is no one to feed and clean those who cannot do so for themselves. And yet we decide, completely arbitrarily who will become rich, and who will barely have enough to get by. This is what we have chosen. This is what we defend when we choose to allow our richest citizens to pay under a living wage so that they can reap ever greater profits. It is not what I advocate…..ever.

       

      1. Topcat

        I recommend a system in which everyone is compensated by the hour spent doing whatever it is that they do to contribute to our country.

        This Marxist utopian dream has been tried and we can see the results in many of the countries that have tried it such as Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, and many others.

        1. sisterhood

          Why does it bother you so much if someone who busses the table where you are enjoying a $50 meal gets paid enough for a one bedroom apartment, some groceries, utilities, and an occasional dinner out? Or a person who bathes and feeds a 95 year old World War II veteran? I just don’t get it.

        2. Topcat

          Why does it bother you so much if someone who busses the table where you are enjoying a $50 meal gets paid enough for a one bedroom apartment, some groceries, utilities, and an occasional dinner out? Or a person who bathes and feeds a 95 year old World War II veteran? I just don’t get it.

          What employees make should be a arrangement between the employer and the employee without government interference.  When the government makes it illegal to pay less than some “minimum wage” various distortions in the market are created which hurt the least skilled people in society.

          When a restaurant goes out of business the guy who busses tables loses his/her job.  When an entrepreneur decides not to open a business because labor cost are too high, prospective jobs are not created.  When a retailer converts checkout lines to self checkout, there are less low skilled checker jobs available.

          If the family of the 95 year old WWII veteran can’t afford some inflated “minimum wage”, then the veteran will have to bathe and feed himself or rely on family to do it.

          1. Davis Progressive

            “What employees make should be a arrangement between the employer and the employee without government interference. ”

            you’re entitled to that view, but it is a subjective view.  i don’t see why it necessarily follows.  there’s a reason why we have a lot of the labor laws we do, and primarily it was abuse by the employers and their disproportionate power in that relationship.

        3. hpierce

          Topcat & David… you both should define what you mean as “marxism”… if you mean, “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need”, it has been tried, does exist, and works for those who choose to live that lifestyle.  Topcat’s citations are not true “marxism”, using the quote above, and David, you are only correct in regards to “national” or very “large society” metrics.

        4. Topcat

          there’s a reason why we have a lot of the labor laws we do, and primarily it was abuse by the employers and their disproportionate power in that relationship.

          Yes, most of the labor laws we have are reasonable.  Outlawing child labor makes sense, Requiring safe working conditions makes sense.  Limiting the number of hours an employee can work makes sense.

          What doesn’t make sense is taking away the freedom of an employee to work for less than some arbitrary “Minimum wage”.

          Imagine what would happen if the minimum wage is raised to $15 per hour in Davis.  Many small businesses and social service providers would have to cut back employees or cut back employee hours.  Entrepreneurs who might be thinking about starting a business would choose not to do so, thus resulting in less jobs.  Some employers would decide that it makes sense to relocate out of Davis (maybe to Woodland, Dixon, or West Sacramento?), thus depriving Davis of employment opportunities and tax revenue.  The City of Davis would drastically reduce the number of Summer lifeguards and playground leaders they employ.  Employers will look for any means of replacing employees with technology; for example, we may find ourselves ordering meals on a video screen in restaurants instead of having a waiter/waitress taking the order.  The cost of child care and elder care will increase causing many people to use less of these services.

          The most adversely affected people will be those with the lowest skills.  These include people with mild disabilities, those with poor work habits, those with poor interpersonal skills, those with criminal records, and teenagers with little work history and skills.

          Those who advocate for drastic increases in the minimum wage never address the issue of what the very lowest skilled people in society should do when they can’t find employment at artificially inflated “minimum wage” rates.  I guess that they just don’t care about low skilled and disadvantaged people.

        5. Davis Progressive

          where has marxism ever really been implemented?  if you’ve read marx, one of the things he warned about was attempting to install marxism in a pre-capitalist society because it would not develop the institutions to support marxism, and yet we never saw capitalism be implemented anywhere but pre-capitalist societies.  what we call marxism was more of a statist dictatorship than what marx called for.

        6. hpierce

          Topcat and David… I asked you to define what “marxism” is to you…. you have not chosen to respond to that question….  how then, can I tell you where it has worked, where it is working, if I don’t even know it we are using common definitions of what “marxism” is?  I gave you one definition, but I have no idea if you agree my quote is “marxism”.  Until you do, ….

        7. hpierce

          Ok.  David, using your definition, strictly as you wrote it, “Marxism is the control of the means of production by the people.”, I’d argue that you may be describing a free-market economy, with a lot of government controls exerted by freely elected representatives of the people.  Gee, can’t think of a single example of that.  The definition I thought you may have had in mind was the one I was prepared to give examples of, but I was wrong.

        8. Topcat

          Topcat & David… you both should define what you mean as “Marxism”

          My point was a response the Tia’s comment that appears to advocate getting rid of the free enterprise system for compensating people.  It’s unclear how she thinks people should be compensated, but she does seem to be in favor of making it illegal to pay people less than some politically determined “Minimum Wage”.

      2. hpierce

        Tia… are you saying they should be “equally” compensated?  As in, a person who waits tables should receive the same hourly wage as someone who performs brain surgery, or do you mean “proportional” or “fair”?  This is meant as a ‘fair’ question, where I do not intend to put words in your mouth.  Someone brought up “Marxism”, one possible definition of which is “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need”.  Just looking for clarification.

        1. Tia Will

          hpierce

          “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need”

          This is a close approximation of what I mean. Unfortunately this is the “catch phrase” that people use to summarize Marxist thought which they believe has been “tried and failed”. To the best of my knowledge no one has ever implemented such a system on a large scale, although very small groups can and do operate on such systems recognizing the value of all contributions.

          I mean equal. As in the same amount. I believe that compensation should be per hour of time expended in the activity of one’s choice and aptitude. I believe this since time is the only thing that we all share equally. An hour is an hour for everyone.

          To the argument “but I studied for years to get here” my response is yes, and so did I. But if we had been compensated equally hour for hour for the study that we did, while the day laborer was also being compensated hour for hour for the work she was doing while also contributing to the society, we would come out with the same amount of compensation. If we want to make more, to trade in for more goods or services, we simply put in more hours. If we are satisfied with the base pay ( enough to live on ) then we could have the rest of our time free. It would truly be a matter of choice.

          If we started this beginning during school and throughout one’s lifetime, we would not have the glaring disparity that we have now in wealth. If we were paid for going to school instead of having to pay to attend, and if we could count on enough to live on if we put in “x” number of hours weekly, we would be free to follow what we truly love without having to worry about whether or not we could feed our children or afford their medicine.

          Yes, I know that this would mean a drastic change in our societal values from a consumption based culture to a collaboration based society. But, we invent the society after all. It is ours to keep or change according to our wishes. We have done it over and over again and I believe it could be done again.

           

        2. Topcat

          I believe that compensation should be per hour of time expended in the activity of one’s choice and aptitude.

          Under Tia’s scheme everyone would make the same amount of money.  The Psychiatrist would make the same as the Psychic, a mortician would make the same as a magician, the Airline Pilot would make the same as a janitor, a University Dean would make the same as a Unitrans driver, A postman would make the same as a Fox News Pundit, a Starbucks Barista would make the same as a Congressman, a stay at home dad would make the same as a car salesman, a lecturer would make the same as a full professor, a lazy person would make the same as a hard worker, a stupid person would make the same as a smart person.  In fact, everyone would make the same!

          What could possibly go wrong with this scheme?

        3. hpierce

          Topcat… I believe that Tia’s view is a “utopian” aspiration.  Early examples of it being reasonably successful, were the Hebrew/Jewish faith, during their exodus from Egypt, early Christianity, and many monastery communities of faith,  many “communes”, other faith communities today.  Somewhat in Amish, etc. communities.  Ironic that Marx who I believe is quoted as “religion is the opiate of the people”, promulgated a “basic” concept that came from spiritual/religious communities.

          Most larger applications have failed.  Note Napolean Pig’s references (I surmise) to Animal Farm.  Eventually human nature views “some animals more equal than others”.  Particularly if the leaders feel themselves, and their cohorts believe they are “more equal”.  Most of your cites come from that belief system.  Communism as practiced/implemented is a perversion of Marxism.  And fairness, and justice.

          I tend to agree (big time) than Tia’s view is simplistic.  I find it an interesting counter-balance to the other extremes.  I’m more in the middle.

          However, at the other end of the spectrum, I do see big compensation inequities at the high and low end.

  5. TrueBlueDevil

    Kevin Johnson has it right; the cost of housing in San Francisco is double or triple that of Sacramento or Modesto.

    If the Democrats were really truly serious about helping the poor and middle class, they’d work with the federal government to close the southern border. Seattle and San Francisco continue to lose jobs and businesses with these added costs to businesses and alteration of the free market.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        Typically window dressing, we’re not serious about it. Democrats want the votes for three generations, the GOP big wigs wants cheap labor / and / or don’t want to be labeled racist.

        Meanwhile, the lower and middle classes get hammered.

        1. Don Shor

          By a vote of 69 to 29, senators amended the immigration bill to include provisions that would double the size of the U.S. Border Patrol along the Mexican border, require the construction of 700 miles of fencing along the southern border and authorize the use of new radar and unmanned aerial drones to track illegal border crossings.

          If that’s window dressing, then I don’t know what you want. I guess you would only be satisfied if federal agents rounded up every current illegal resident and deported them? That bill was a compromise that took considerable effort to achieve. The Senate passed it. The President would have signed it. It would have passed the House. But the leadership refused to bring it to a vote.
          Republicans have only themselves to blame for the lack of an immigration reform bill.

        2. TrueBlueDevil

          What happened to the wall? Why are border agents stationed miles and miles away from the actual border? Why don’t we allow border agents to arrest illegal aliens crossing the border, and send them directly home to the interior of Mexico?

    1. Tia Will

      TBD

      If the Democrats were really truly serious about helping the poor and middle class, they’d work with the federal government to close the southern border. “

      Let’s not pretend that because some of us do not share your vision of allowing those human beings not lucky enough to be born here in the US to starve or be brutalized in order to help the poor and the middle class means that we are not serious. It is true that I do not value American lives above other human lives. It is not true that I am not serious about helping those that need help, regardless of their nationality.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        Untruths, exaggeration, or logical fallacies get us no closer to the truth, whether you are an Open Borders person and or the many that believe in our nation’s rights.

        First, the portion of illegal aliens that are rarely discussed are those that overstay their visa – student visa, tourist visa, etc. I’m told this is up to 40 percent of illegal aliens / immigrants. So if someone from Russia or China had the funds and contacts to survive in America for 2 months or 2 years, odds are incredibly low that they face starvation or brutalization in their home country. I met a young man from Bulgaria who was here on a tourist visa, decided he liked it, and heard there was a Russian lawyer in Sacramento who could help him stay here. He was facing nothing dire at home. If they lie on their visa application – which states they will go home by x date – why do we bend over backwards for them?

        Those coming from Mexico aren’t typically starving or brutalized, they just want a better economic life, and maybe some free social services and an anchor baby. They know the game. Mexico in the larger picture isn’t a very poor country.

        I never said I value American life more than others, but we are a nation of laws, though it often seems like those on the left like to forget about a lot of them. In my travels, at least one third of young people would move to the US if they had the chance. We have the most generous immigration policy, I think, in the world. What country has a more generous policy? There are numerous ways to gain legal entry into the country, why should my friends in Central America or Europe have to wait in line behind those who break numerous laws?

        Some believe we are already seeing the effects of our open ended, wide open illegal immigration where lawlessness prevails. Gangs have exploded, wages are down, social rolls have swelled, and we have the slowest recovery out of a recession since the Great Depression – with a record number of Americans not working. We are giving away formerly middle class blue collar jobs to illegal immigrants, and on the other hand we are flooding the country with average-skilled STEM workers who depress wages and employment in those fields and make them defacto indentured servants.

        Then you wonder why the middle class suffers? Really? You think a minimum wage hike will fix that?

        1. Tia Will

          Those coming from Mexico aren’t typically starving or brutalized, they just want a better economic life, and maybe some free social services and an anchor baby. They know the game. Mexico in the larger picture isn’t a very poor country.”

          Mexico, in the “larger picture” isn’t arriving on our border. The people that are crossing illegally are desperate or they would not be making a possibly life threatening journey here. When you drop these derogatory statements about “free social services and anchor babies” you are engaging in the same generalization and exaggeration that you supposedly want to avoid.

          If we are speaking anecdotally, I can share my experiences with three years of Emergency Room treatments of those who have barely made it across the border. It was not unusual to have to treat someone for dehydration, malnutrition, snakebite, severe hyperthermia. It is fine to say that you do not value American lives more than those of others, but when there are people dying along your border, and you are promoting a fence to make it more difficult to gain entry, I find that hard to believe.

          As for respect for the law, I will respect any law that is based on a moral principle. A law that says if you are born a few hundred yards to the north you get taken care of, but a few hundred yards to the south and you die, I do not respect and would break in a heartbeat, and yes, I would accept the consequences if caught.

           

        2. TrueBlueDevil

          If Mexico isn’t arriving at our southern border, who is, Estonia? Botswana? It is distortions and untruths that prevent even the most basic discussion.

          The Mexican nationals I’ve spoke to aren’t starving in Mexico. They have families, they have wives, children, extended families. If you mention Jesus Christo, a number will open up their wallet and show you a picture of Christ. They don’t like the low wages in Mexico, the hard work, and the difficulty in getting ahead there. They then see their brothers or fellow town members come home with an old truck, new jeans and fancy cowboy boots. They’re not blind. I had numerous conversations with a man who was taking home 2 laptops he bought for his daughters (on sale), a new truck (to him), a pistol (for protection), and enough cash to buy his second home in Mexico.

          I’ve done plenty of charity work in California, I see who are using them. Friends who work for major charities, one local, one national, say that their clientele is virtually 100 percent Latino in cities that had minimal Latino citizens 10 years ago. They don’t check citizenship, but their estimation is that most are illegal immigrants. There are many reasons why illegal entrants stay here, many strategies, and yes, anchor babies is one of them. Just as there are some who leave to buy a home in Mexico and return to family.

          Not only has this devastated our lower- and middle-class communities, it also has an impact on Mexico. Mexico gets Billions upon Billions every year pumped into their economy in dollars from money transfers, so she then has less need to solve her own internal problems with education and health care. But it tears families apart when a Father is gone for 2, 3, 5 years. Marriages suffer, maybe Sancho has a field day. I discussed this with a Panamanian friend who says that this migration has spurred the growth of gangs (M13, Nortenois, Sorenos) as the Fathers are gone, young boys look for role models.

          But this is all a theoretical problem for you as you’re geographically and economically insulated from these issues.

          You have ER visits from border crossers who are dehydrated … in Sacramento?

          Are you also empathetic for Americans who have been killed by Mexican gangs? Do you have compassion for black families who are being racially driven out of South Central?
          Latino Gang Members in Southern California are Terrorizing and Killing Blacks

          Acting on orders from the Mexican Mafia, Latino gang members in Southern California are terrorizing and killing blacks.
          http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2006/winter/la-blackout
          “”They generally don’t like African Americans,” Pomona gang unit officer Marcus Perez testified in that case. “If an African American enters their neighborhood, they’re likely to be injured or killed.’ ”

          “A comprehensive study of hate crimes in Los Angeles County released by the University of Hawaii in 2000 concluded that while the vast majority of hate crimes nationwide are not committed by members of organized groups, Los Angeles County is a different story.

          Researchers found that in areas with high concentrations, or “clusters,” of hate crimes, the perpetrators were typically members of Latino street gangs who were purposely targeting blacks.”

          Attack on family in Compton latest incident in wave of anti-black violence

          A Latino gang is intimidating blacks into leaving the city that was once an African American enclave. It’s part of a violent trend seen in other parts of the L.A. area.
          http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jan/25/local/la-me-0126-compton-20130126

          http://thegrio.com/2011/06/08/will-latino-gang-arrests-deepen-black-brown-divide/

    2. hpierce

      Not convinced the “southern border” is taking away ANYTHING except maybe the minimum wage labor pool.  Even then, most of the folks who currently come over the “southern border” (undocumented/illegal) are probably “off-the-books” and not even getting the ‘minimum wage’, but are not in a position to protest that.  The fact Wal-Mart is raising their minimum wage shouldn’t affect the “southern border” issue, because as a large employer, they probably don’t want to risk violating “documentation” laws.

      The “border issue” is one issue.  “minimum wage” is another.  On the latter, I believe that businesses are not charities, nor do I believe they should “exploit” laborers to increase profits.  Those on the “true left” and “true right” will attack that opinion.  Good.  In my opinion, they’re both “wrong”.

      IMHO, I’d be fighting for medical/dental coverage as a higher priority than wages.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        I’m sorry but you are misinformed at least as far as the Bay Area. Illegal aliens who are carpenters can make $15 – 25 per hour (union rate is about $45 per hour), semi skilled physical labor can get $15 / hr or more. Maybe that doesn’t hold in Sacramento, but those wages are paid, often off the books, in the Bay Area. A friend hired day laborers to do work outside, he said the rate was $110 per day ($14 / hr), plus lunch / drinks.

        1. Tia Will

          TBD

          That’s fine. You can cherry pick the top paid positions amongst needed skilled laborers. Now, can you also quote the amount being paid to “off the books” housecleaners, nannies and off the books non skilled manual laborers ? I can’t, but I am quite sure they are not even close to the amounts you are quoting in your “someone told me” based information.

          When you try to extrapolate that to represent the labor pool as a whole, is that not exaggeration ?

        2. TrueBlueDevil

          Tia, I can give you a small list of wages, jobs – skilled and unskilled, and some details, but I was not cherry picking the best wages, some people make more, much more, some make much less. Ironically, most I have spoken to or heard about make more than the minimum wage, plus other job perks.

          I’m not sure my list would enlighten you any as I think you’ll simply circle back to illegal immigrants being noble victims, and America / capitalism being bad.

          And you don’t seem to care or believe that these tens of millions of illegal aliens have dramatically impacted the American middle and lower classes. Not lawyers, not doctors, but the middle class. These are / were my uncles, cousins, brothers, relatives.

      2. Frankly

        For a poster that seems to be well informed, hpierce I see you as significantly ignorant on this.

        And part of the reason you may be ignorant on this, is the lack of reporting.  And this is caused by the fact that there are three usually conflicting camps fighting to keep up the status quo of allowing so many uneducated low-skilled workers to flow from the southern border.  Business likes it.  Unions like it.  And Democrats like it.   The flood of illegal immigrants has severally depressed wages in a number of industries.   It has increased competition for low-wage and medium-wage jobs at a time when the US economy changed to have fewer of those jobs, and a time when globalism was also causing a decline in manufacturing jobs.

        Just look at the wage trends for construction jobs.   Wages for construction have not kept pace with inflation for the simple reason that there is an over supply of labor driven by the millions of illegal migrants that flowed here over the last 30 years.

        And so the over-supply of low-skilled workers from unchecked immigration, plus globalism, plus crappy economic policy that favors environmental extremism over economic sustainability… has all led us to this point.  But instead of addressing those root causes we get this demand to force business to pay workers more… and basically add salt to the wounds of too few jobs.

    3. sisterhood

      Re: all the “illegals” stealing jobs in San Francisco and Seattle, my son could only find minimum wage work in Davis. In San Francisco he found a better paying job immediately. Just yesterday he was discussing his savings with his dad. This is the first time in his life he’s had any extra money to think about saving or investing.  He may actually buy some stock, which helps our economy. All because his salary is better. My friend’s daughter left Sacramento and moved to Seattle, because there are more job opportunities there.

      1. Topcat

        This is the first time in his life he’s had any extra money to think about saving or investing.  He may actually buy some stock, which helps our economy.

        It’s great that he realizes that saving and investing are a path to a better future.  I hope that he has a 401K or other plan available through his employer.  I am always amazed at the people that fail to take advantage of these types of plans.  In some cases, they are turning down free money from their employers.

        1. Barack Palin

          So true, my daughter has a 6% match where she works and she wasn’t putting any money away until I pointed out how stupid it was not to be at least putting in 6% of her check to take advantage of the free 6% 401K match she’d be getting from her employer.

      2. Davis Progressive

        for the most part illegals are not stealing jobs – they are for the most part filling a niche that would be largely unfilled otherwise.  they provide a steady supply of unskilled labor in a variety of industries.

  6. WesC

    “Kevin Johnson has it right; the cost of housing in San Francisco is double or triple that of Sacramento or Modesto.”

    San Francisco housing is double or triple that of Sacramento because SF is surrounded on 3 sides by water and has no room for unlimited sprawl which seems to be the model for Sacramento.  San Francisco also has tremendous demand for housing from young well paid silicon valley techies who prefer to live in San Francisco and are willing to pay a premium for it.  San Francisco has also had past board of supervisor members like Chris Daly who had a reputation for fighting any new housing developments in the city which limited the supply of housing stock.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Thank you for acknowledging that liberal policies (i.e., Chris Daly) help to drive up the costs of housing. When we require more open space, when we require new housing to subsidize low-income housing, when we restrict where housing can be built, when we pile regulation on top of regulation, when we have an endless supply of red tape and legal hurdles, we drive up the cost of housing.

      The City is unique in that it is geographically limited, so  that in some sense it should be looked at in more of a regional context. Housing can be acquired in Oakland at half the price or less. I’ve often felt Oakland should build some high rise condos and apartments, bring in high speed ferries, and become a bedroom community for SF.

    2. sisterhood

      The bay also has tons of jobs. My son left Davis after a one year job search (he was working in Davis @ minimum wage) and found a higher paying job in less than one month, & a nicer apartment –  a studio in a cute neighborhood within walking distance to his job.  No studios available in Davis. That’s crazy for a town with so many single folks.

      1. Frankly

        What is he paying for that studio, and how much is he making?

        Everything you just wrote about is connected to capitalism and economic growth, not the minimum wage.

      1. hpierce

        If so, about 75% of the posts, related to legal/illegal immigration on this “thread” should also be removed.  The door was left ajar very early in these comments.

      2. Barack Palin

        If this is considered off topic than the Vanguard should keep a better eye on the many other commenters who often post off topic but somehow always seem to get to slide.

  7. Frankly

    This from the NYT in 1988.

    WASHINGTON, March 19— Illegal aliens are depressing wages and worsening working conditions for legal immigrants and native Americans in low-skilled and low-paying jobs, the General Accounting Office says.

    Citing empirical data and several case studies, the accounting office, an investigative arm of Congress, said Friday that United States-born citizens and legally documented immigrants were being hurt, especially those working as janitors and food processors.

    The report identified restaurants and companies producing automobile parts, shoes and clothing as others that often employ illegal aliens. The aliens’ willingness to work in low-skill jobs for less than the minimum wage in those industries has depressed wages and benefits for comparable native and legal immigrants, the G.A.O. said.

    1. Don Shor

      So Congress should pass immigration reform in both houses, and send it to the President.
      It would be interesting to see an actual economic analysis of the impact of immigration, legal and not, on wages. Because the fact is that illegal immigration has, or had, slowed to a trickle, whereas legal immigration and guest workers have continued to increase. So my guess is that the impact on wages is either delayed or much less significant than you and others may think.
      This is from 2012:

      In sum, although permanent and undocumented migration rose in the years leading up to the Great Recession, only tempo- rary labor migration rebounded and, indeed, accelerated after 2009. At present, permanent immigration is currently holding steady at around a million entries per year, refugee migration is just over 50,000 entries per year, and undocumented migra- tion has effectively ceased. Only guest worker migration has risen substantially.

      https://web.stanford.edu/group/scspi/_media/pdf/pathways/fall_2012/Pathways_Fall_2012%20_Massey.pdf

      1. sisterhood

        “So my guess is that the impact on wages is either delayed or much less significant than you and others may think.”

        Hear, hear.

        And I disagree that immigration is on topic. First few words of this article are “Walmarts’ pay increase”, discussing the legal minimum wage. How can readers turn this into another “blame the illegals”?   Next we will read how the AFFORDABLE Health Care Act is putting big corporations like Walmart out of business. Then the small business owners will chime in, and the subject matter originally printed will be lost to the haters.

        Guess I’ll wait for David’s next article because this one is lost to the haters.

  8. Tia Will

    TBD

    But this is all a theoretical problem for you as you’re geographically and economically insulated from these issues.

    You have ER visits from border crossers who are dehydrated … in Sacramento?”

    Earlier in my career, I worked for three years as a generalist in Fresno, and later for two years along the border between Arizona and Mexico. Yes, I saw many cases of dehydration, snake bite, hyperthermia, hypothermia ( depending on when they were trying to make their crossing) and near drownings since not everyone makes it across a wash during a monsoon.

    It is clear to me that we have had different exposures to different groups of immigrants based on the geography of where we have worked and the type of work that we do. I am not sure why you are so invested in “proving” that my experiences are somehow less valid than yours. Could it be that you cannot accept that both different types of experiences exist and that it is just easier to try to invalidate what I am saying than to try to hold the complexity of the situation in your thoughts. I do not deny that the situations that you describe occur. I am not sure why you are so invested in trying to ridicule my experience. Perhaps you would like to explain ?

     

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      It is not ridicule, but it is actual working class Americans who are hammered by these utopian dreams that is pushing tens of millions of Americans into the lower-middle, and lower classes. As if raising the minimum wage or increasing the payment for food stamps will counteract the affect on the supply side when 30-40 million illegal, often uneducated or under-educated aliens / immigrants illegally enter our country. Historically, this is also quite different because in past generations there was not an extensive social safety net provided by the government.

      We can agree that it is complex, and on a recent post I acknowledged that we have a millions of people here illegally from Europe, India, China, and elsewhere who have overstayed their tourist, student, business, and other visas. We should expel them right away, too so that Americans have a better chance at employment, housing, and student aid. All this falls on top of the fact that we have an aging population, and we didn’t save any money for Social Security and Medicare.

      The most interesting conversation I have had of late was at a taqueria in a Bay Area barrio with a painter / tile man. He lived here for years, moved to LA, and came back. I asked him why. “No money in LA, Mexicans like the tile floor, but money no good. Pay $300, $400 a room for 2 days work with my brother.” I tried to get clarification. “Mexicans… do you mean Mexican Americans?” “Si, si, the Mexican Americans love the tile floor, but no money. Here the Whites pay good money, $1,000, $1,200, $1,300 a room!” This is basic economics. There is a massive labor pool in Southern California (supply), and it is Latinos in this instance who are driving a hard bargain where tile setters will only make roughly $10-12 an hour. Here the labor pool is less, and he can charge 3x as much, $30 an hour!

      This is a perfect illustration of a race to the bottom, where wages are being driven to a level where existence will be bare bones, and reliance on govt services will increase dramatically. Many liberals seem oblivious to this reality, as well as the reality that Latino families in Central and South America are being torn apart by this massive migration.

      One further note. Latino Pope Francis let a politically incorrect cat out of the bag yesterday. In an email to a friend in Argentina:

      “Francis made the reference in an email over the weekend to an Argentine friend and lawmaker, Gustavo Vera, who is involved in combating the drug trade. He published the pope’s email on the website of his Alameda Foundation.

      “In the email, Francis wrote: “Hopefully we are in time to avoid Mexicanization.” “
      http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/20150225-vatican-seeks-to-quell-anger-over-pope-s-mexicanization-remark.ece

      Before her death, even Senator Barbara Jordan (D) advocated closing the border (legal and illegal) for five years so that our own citizens, which included African Americans, would have time to join the labor force and gain job skills without unfair competition from non citizens.

      Yes, it is a complex situation. But a world citizen like Obama has less regard for American citizens.

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