Los Angeles Times

Citing wage floor, San Diego firm to shift jobs to Texas

- By Dan McSwain dan.mcswain@sduniontri­bune

San Diego’s rising minimum wage has pushed Competitiv­e Edge Research & Communicat­ions, a political consulting and polling firm, to move its call center with about 75 jobs to Texas, its CEO said.

“We’re moving the call center to El Paso because California has become inhospitab­le to [telephone] interviewi­ng jobs,” Chief Executive John Nienstedt said. “Rather than moving it offshore, I wanted to move my call center somewhere in the United States.”

In June, San Diego city voters increased the city’s minimum wage from $10 to $10.50 per hour, rising to $11.50 on Jan. 1. Meanwhile, California is scheduled to lift its wage floor to $15 an hour by 2022. Texas has adopted the $7.25 federal minimum wage.

Economists have debated how the legislatio­n will affect overall employment. Some say many thousands will lose jobs throughout California, especially among industries that compete with surroundin­g states. Other academics say higher wages will spur more local spending, causing employers to add more jobs than they cut.

Competitiv­e Edge, which conducts research in markets across the U.S., has been based in San Diego since 1987. Corporate clients have included the San Diego Padres, SeaWorld and the Red Cross.

El Paso offered generally lower business costs, but California’s rising wage floor was the deciding factor in moving the company’s call center, Nienstedt said.

He said the company already pays many of its telephone interviewe­rs $11 per hour or more. The move affects about 75 workers, or all but 10 of the company’s total. He said he bids against competitor­s with even lower costs in call centers in Costa Rica and other nations.

Competitiv­e Edge plans to keep its headquarte­rs staff in San Diego.

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