How a Minimum-Wage Increase Is Being Felt in a Low-Wage City
As wages went up, Ms. Parra said, it would be easier for her to help with rent and pay the phone and cable bills in the apartment she shares with her mother, who makes $ 18.50 an hour with a heating and air conditioning company.
However, she noticed that her wages were insufficient to live alone. “I wouldn’t say we’re poor, but I wouldn’t say we’re fine either,” she said. “But because we both have incomes, we can do well.”
Mayor Jerry Dyer said there were “obviously mixed feelings” about the rising minimum wage. “As the mayor of a city, it is important that we have people in our community who earn a living wage,” he said.
But Mr. Dyer, a Republican, said he also understood the pain companies could feel. “I’ve heard from companies that if the minimum wage rises too much, they can’t be competitive,” he said.
“This is the challenge we face,” he said.
A prevailing question is whether $ 15 is enough.
This is often not the case in Fresno. MIT’s Living Wage Calculator estimates that a living wage in Fresno for a family of four with both adults working is $ 22.52 an hour. Last year, Fresno’s median rent rose 11 percent to $ 1,260, according to Apartment List’s National Rent Report. This was one of the largest increases in the country.
Jessica Ramirez, 26, makes $ 15.65 an hour 40 hours a week at the Amazon warehouse in Fresno. She’s the main breadwinner for herself, her partner, and her five children, but even with food stamps and the occasional gig, she says, her wages are barely enough to get by.