San Francisco Minimum Wage Increase Makes It Highest In The Nation (VIDEO)

01/02/2013 03:48 pm ET

It's good to be a server in San Francisco, and the plethora of award-winning restaurants isn't the only reason.

After a January 1 increase, San Francisco now has the highest minimum wage in the country, clocking in at a whopping $10.55 an hour. The previous rate was $10.24, which was five cents shy of Santa Fe's. But with the increase, San Francisco now leads the nation.

As reported by the Examiner, voters approved a 2003 local ordinance tying the minimum wage to the regional rate of inflation. The minimum wage has thus increased annually from $8.50 an hour in 2004.

Though praised by many, the generous rate has also been criticized for allegedly pushing businesses out of the city.

Celebrity Chef Elizabeth Falkner detailed some of the unfortunate side effects of a high minimum wage in an interview with The Huffington Post.

"San Francisco is hard on a chef," Falkner told HuffPost. "Between the unbelievably high rent, Healthy San Francisco and now the highest minimum wage in the country, there's just no margin."

Falkner credited the recent restaurant boom in Oakland with the unaffordability of San Francisco.

"We have a Board of Supervisors right now that keeps putting these initiatives on the ballot and of course people vote for them--who doesn't want to raise the minimum wage?" she said.

After closing her San Francisco restaurants, Falkner recently moved her empire to New York, where the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

The Examiner cited conflicting studies on the effects of a high minimum wage, including a UC Berkeley study suggesting that a wage increase has no impact on the number of jobs, and a University of Kentucky study suggesting that wage increases also increase unemployment among young workers.

"[The minimum wage increase] eliminates people from getting their foot on the first rung of the ladder," said Bill Hermann, an economist at Golden Gate University, in an interview with ABC Local.

Living wage activists argue that the increase means employees will be spending more, adding a boost to our economy.

"You know that those workers turn around a spend that money," said Conny Ford of the San Francisco Labor Council in the same video. "So it helps San Francisco in our economic growth."

What do you think of the increase? Let us know in the poll below, and watch ABC's video on the new wage.

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