Wages and salaries

Minimum wage violations increase in San Diego, study shows

The study's findings indicate affected workers lose about 20% of their total paycheck each year

NBC Universal, Inc.

Minimum wage violations have more than doubled in four California cities, including San Diego, a Rutgers University study released Thursday shows.

The Workplace Justice Lab examined wage surveys taken between 2014 and 2023. The findings indicate affected workers lose about 20% of their total paycheck each year.

The lab says its findings indicate California employers paying less than minimum wage result in lost income for people who can least afford it.

“It makes it that much more important that these agencies at the state and local level are properly resourced and have the strategies in place to deal with this underlying issue,“ lead author Jacob Barnes said.

Barnes says the Work Place Justice Lab chose to examine California because of state and local minimum wage increases and its more strict labor standards.

According to the findings, the highest minimum wage violation rates occur in agriculture at 34%, private households at 32%, restaurants and bars at 23% and personal and laundry services at 22%.

“Unfortunately we weren’t too surprised. The higher the wage rate, the more likely the workers are to have their wages stolen,” Barnes said.

The largest increase occurred between 2022 and 2023. It amounted to 56%.

The study is based on data collected by the most recent census. It includes information about household earnings and other job variables. They compared those statistics to minimum wage rates for the area to determine possible violations.

Barnes says between 1 and 1.5 million workers in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose are affected. Minorities and young people are affected three times more.

“We do find that Black and Latinx workers are more likely across areas, than white workers, to experience minimum wage violations,“ Barnes said.

Barnes says study results should provide employers with information they need, help watchdog government organizations with oversight strategies and give employees information to submit complaints when necessary.

The study indicates wage violations cost workers a combined $2.3 to $4.6 billion annually. Affected workers lose about 20% of their total paycheck, or an average of $4,000, per year.

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