July 29, 2003
Survey finds broad support
for ‘living wage’ among 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
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
The full report is available as a link from the press release at www.csus.edu/news.
O’Keefe may be reached at (916) 278-6838. Media assistance is available
from CSUS public affairs at (916) 278-6156.