County workers, home care workers, and local community organizations joined residents on September 9 to call on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors to address widening income inequality by passing a living wage ordinance in the county and preserving home care providers’ medical benefits.
Silicon Valley has become ground zero for the growing disparity between the haves and have-nots. Compensation for the lowest-paid employees has not kept pace with economic growth.
“I know first-hand what a living wage gap looks like. As a single mom and full-time county employee, I qualify for section 8 housing.”
— Lanelle Duran, Patient Services Assistant, San Mateo County.
While the economy is rebounding for higher income residents and businesses in Silicon Valley, a growing number of workers are working longer hours and still having a hard time making ends meet. Low wages make it impossible to lift themselves out of poverty no matter how hard theywork.
According to the most recent Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, the U.S. economic recovery has not resulted in higher incomes for anyone other than those who were already doing well. In fact, large groups of Americans have experienced falling incomes, and minorities and women are among the most affected.
Due to rising housing costs and falling incomes, San Mateo County is becoming a virtual gated community unaffordable to all but the wealthiest families.
Many low-wage earners in San Mateo County cannot afford to live where they work. In 2011, more than 40% of the workers who commuted into San Mateo County from elsewhere made less than $40,000 per year.
More than 120 local jurisdictions around the country have already enacted “living wage” ordinances to address the widening income inequality. A living wage ordinance in San Mateo County would allow full-time workers to earn enough to meet sufficiency standards, and potentially save millions in taxpayer dollars.