City of San Diego Increases the Minimum Wage


The City of San Diego will increase its hourly minimum wage from $13 an hour to $14 an hour, beginning January 1st, 2021. This increase applies to all employees, in all industries, within the city limits who work at least two hours per week.

According to the City of San Diego’s media release from Oct. 15, 2020, the change is in accordance with the Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Ordinance that was approved in 2016. This Ordinance increased wages to $10.50 an hour in 2016, $11.50 an hour in 2017, and ensures that wages of San Diego’s employees will increase each year by an amount corresponding to the prior year’s increase.

“The purpose and intent of the Ordinance is to ensure that employees who work in the City receive a livable minimum wage and the right to take earned, paid sick leave to ensure a decent and healthy life for themselves and their families,” the City’s Office of the Treasury said in an email to The UCSD Guardian. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has measured that the cost of living, or the Consumer Price Index, in the area of San Diego has increased 1.6 percent in the past year, and 0.6 percent in the past two months. 

“This increase in wage is a little concerning because it’s really just showing how much the cost of living in San Diego is increasing by each year. That being said, I am grateful that the administration of San Diego is recognizing how much the cost of living is rising and doing their best to offset the struggles we are all facing,” freshmen at Roger Revelle College, Jordan Zamora said. 

The Ordinance also mandates that tips or gratuity cannot be counted towards the minimum wage. Because of Labor Code Section 351, California law prohibits employers from keeping any portion of gratuity given to one or more employees by a patron.

It is also stated in the 2016 Ordinance that each employee must be provided with earned sick leave — no less than one hour for every 30 hours worked — and that these notices must be posted in a conspicuous place within each business place for employees to see. These notices must be reposted each year in relation to changes the city makes.

This change will have minimal effect on campus, because many employees already make above the current minimum wage. Full-time Custodial positions such as Senior Custodian, Environmental Services Custodian, and other positions make an hourly wage of $17.82 – $22.16. Student Academic Title positions, including readers and tutors, make an hourly wage between $17.26 – $31.44, depending on education level. Teaching assistants make a monthly wage that, when broken down, is also well above the minimum wage. 

“I feel that my circumstances are somewhat unique as with most people, but in general it is a livable wage where I am able to pay for my rent with graduate student housing, purchase groceries and pay other expenses related to transportation, supplies, and such,” UCSD Math Teaching Assistant Terry Le said. “In short, what I am being paid is within a slim margin of a livable wage, though everyone’s circumstances are different which allows some more flexibility and others more compromises they have to make.”

Looking forward, the City of San Diego minimum wage is set to continuously increase each year in relation to the increase in the Consumer Price Index.

Photo courtesy of Irvin Yang for The UCSD Guardian.