Courtesy Postmates.

I notice all these $20 an hour jobs coming over the Twitter feed on a Mission District search.  Indeed, if you look at Craigslist, it does seem that if you are paying less than $20 an hour, you might have difficulty getting someone to apply to your listing.

There is this listing for bike messengers from postmates.

Healthright is paying $18.26 to $21.63.

Cleaning will get you $22 an hour.

Oops, Twice, the on-line consignment shop for vintage clothing appears to be offering only $11 an hour.

Lydia Chávez

I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born...

Join the Conversation


  1. That’s great. Many of these companies are so profitable, it makes sense that the entry level wage would be high.

    1. It’s not the profitability of the company that necessarily drives up wages. If the employer is profitable but there is lots of surplus labor looking for work, then those employers would only pay what it takes to get the staff. You never pay more than you have to.

      The problem here is not enough low-paid service workers, which drives up the cost of hiring them. And the problem with that is that if later the company becomes less profitable, then it’s tough to cut wages. So either the help gets fired, or the company makes a loss which ends up with the same result.

      What this does show, perhaps, is that we don’t need a minimum wage law around here, because the market is driving a higher wage anyway.

      1. Perhaps. But then you have the problem of when low paid workers don’t feel valued, often there is lower quality or quantity of work, employee theft of various sorts, etc. So you might skimp on wages to your own detriment.

        1. Maybe, but I suspect that the expression of that view might appear like a threat or form of blackmail to some.

          There are enough honest hard-working people willing to work for employers not to have to put up with the risk of keeping the bitter, resentful types on the payroll.

          1. I don’t think it’s a conscious threat per se, but a natural reaction to a sense that you’re not valued. There are whole books on the mindset/mentality of the American worker and the tendency towards this. I believe there’s been studies where employees have been paid more and they actually work harder, want to learn more and are more dedicated to the company.

          2. The problem is that such arguments are typically used by people advocating some ideological outcome.

            The idea is always that we should throw more money at some class of people or other, else they will commit more crime, draw more welfare, cause civil commotion etc.

            It’s true that some proportion of people who have a bad deal might act out. It’s equally true that most people are mature and reflective enough not to go all sour grapes and bitter just because someone somewhere else is doing better.

            The question of what to pay someone is something best negotiated between employer and employee, and not swept up in dubious and contentious ideological arguments, whether expressed in terms of a thinly-veiled threat or not.

            As a boss I think I would know fairly quickly which workers are giving 100% and which ones are holding back or being disruptive. And the former would do better.

        1. Overpaying workers isn’t “great news”.

          Not even for the workers because it means they are more likely to be fired in a downturn.

          If you’re making more than you are worth, be afraid.

  2. Well…be careful what you wish for. With the increased cost of living in SF, fewer min. wage workers will be able to live within city limits. As someone who studies labor trends and tendencies for a living, most min. wage workers will not cross a bridge for a min. wage job as it simply is not cost effective to do so, even with SF min. wage at 10.74. SF is already looking more like Marin or Walnut Creek in terms of this…where they cannot fill traditionally “easy to fill” positions like cashier at Trader Joes, etc. Then people will complain about “poor service” or “where are the clerks?”….just be careful what you wish for. Almost all major retailers in SF are having huge hiring events currently to address this very issue.

    1. Spending ten minutes on a BART train isn’t a major deal, and 500,000 people commute into SF every day to work. So the fact that low-paid workers cannot afford to live in SF may not matter.

      But in a tight labor market, sure, it’s entirely possible that wages may rise somewhat. And that is fine as well. That said, if I am getting paid $20 an hour for a job that is only normally worth $10 an hour, then I might reasonably fear being laid off if the profitability of the enterprise is compromized.

      Overall, the market adapts. That’s the beauty of it.

      1. I think BART is fine and I’ve commuted myself, but I was making way more than minimum wage. My expectation and facts show that a huge majority of the BART riders are making considerably more than minimum wage.

        1. BART from Oakland to Embarcadero is a lot quicker than a commute from outer Sunset or Richmond to the same financial district location.

          So I’m not sure that minimum wage workers are opposed to living in Oakland. And it will certainly save them a lot of money, which is the critical issue when you’re talking about minimum wage jobs.

          But who knows? People will make their own choices and the market will adapt. In an urban area of five million people, there is a large enough labor pool to keep the enterprises humming along. And wages move around to lubricate the matching of eager workers with vibrant enterprises.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *