The New Year Brings a Minimum Wage Increase in San Diego

The issue of how high the minimum wage should be is an ongoing debate in California and around the country. Thanks to a measure approved by voters in 2016, there have been three scheduled increases so far with two more to come.

The Minimum Wage in San Diego

The measure that passed in 2016 first increased the city of San Diego’s minimum wage to $10.50. That law took effect in July of 2016 and allowed San Diego’s workers to make more money than the state minimum wage at the time.

The next phase of the increase went into effect on January 1, 2017, when the minimum wage increased to $11.50 an hour. At the time, that was still higher than the state minimum wage.

The latest increase is due to an increase in the state minimum wage that started on January 1, 2019. It’s worth noting that the minimum wage is lower for small employers. Those businesses with fewer than 26 employees must pay $11 per hour, while those with more than 26 employees must pay $12 per hour.

Cost of Living in San Diego

San Diego residents know that the cost of living in America’s Finest City is high. California has some of the highest housing prices in the nation, and San Diego is no exception. Many of the people who work in the city limits can’t afford to live there.

In addition to having prohibitively high housing costs, San Diego also has prices for gas, groceries, and utilities that are higher than the national average. An employee who works a full-time job at minimum wage may still struggle to make ends meet.

The measure to raise the minimum wage was a ballot initiative. Its goal was to mitigate the high cost of living for San Diego residents and make it easier for them to make a living.

Challenges for San Diego Business Owners

It’s important to acknowledge the flip side of San Diego’s new minimum wage increase. Business owners must adjust their budgets to be able to afford paying the minimum. While the increase does not affect the smallest businesses in the area, it’s still a challenge for many small business owners to accommodate the new law.

Business owners may need to trim costs in other areas to pay the higher wage. However, it’s worth noting that the business climate is still friendlier in San Diego than in some other cities in California. In San Francisco, for example, the minimum wage has increased steadily and is now $15 per hour.

The hope is that by increasing the minimum wage, businesses will benefit because workers will put more money back into the San Diego economy. The increase will also raise additional revenue for things like city infrastructure repairs and other necessary services.


The new $12 minimum wage in San Diego offers a fair wage to employees and offers both challenges and potential rewards for business owners. It’s likely that the debate about what the minimum wage should be will continue in the coming year.

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Posted in Cities, General.