Campus: CSU Sacramento -- July 30, 2003

Survey finds broad support for 'living wage' among Californians

Californians overwhelmingly support the idea of a “living wage,” though they’re divided on the idea of paying more to support it, according to a new statewide survey developed by California State University, Sacramento economics professor Suzanne O’Keefe and conducted by the Field Research Corporation.

The survey of 788 California adults provides a broad assessment of public opinion on living wage laws. It was conducted July 1-13.

According to the survey, 70 percent of Californians who either live in areas without living wage laws, or who aren’t sure if their community has such a law, support living wage laws. Support is even higher among those who currently live in parts of the state that have living wage laws, with 83 percent favoring them.

Living wage ordinances vary, but generally require employers contracting with the local government to pay their workers more than the federal or state minimum wage. They have been put in place by 109 local governments nationwide, according to ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). Sacramento and San Diego are among a number of cities currently considering such an ordinance.
Asked whether they would be willing to pay $40 to $50 more in local taxes to support a living wage, Californians are more divided, with 49 percent saying they would and 44 percent saying they wouldn’t. Among Democrats, 61 percent say they would pay higher taxes to support a living wage law, compared to only 33 percent of Republicans who say this.

O’Keefe found the strongest support for new living wage ordinances in Southern California and the Bay Area, where levels of support were 70 and 80 percent respectively. In the Central Valley, 63 percent favored their community passing a living wage law.

The survey was conducted through the California State University - Field Faculty Fellowship program, and was sponsored by the CSU Social Science Research and Instructional Council.

Additional details and findings from the survey are available by contacting O’Keefe at (916) 278-6838. Media assistance is available by contacting the CSUS public affairs office at (916) 278-6156.

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