As of January 1, 2011, San Francisco's minimum wage went up from $9.92 to $10.24, which now makes it the nation's highest. California state's federal minimum wage is $8 -- that means San Franciscans are paid 28 percent more than minimum-wage workers in other Bay Area cities -- and the federal minimum wage is still $7.25 (ergo, 41 percent higher here).
Let's put that in context, shall we? According to the Council for Community and Economic Research, the cost of living in San Francisco is 62 percent higher than the national average, a figure that middle- and upper-middle-class workers are easily able to wield during salary negotiations. If we were to adjust the federal minimum wage for cost of living in SF, that would translate to $11.75.
And working 40 hours a week at $10.24 still only earns you about $1800 a month. Take out taxes, and then look and what you're able to afford on the rental market today. Rents have been spiking of late -- the average one-bedroom now goes for $1885 a month -- and at $600-750 a month your shared housing options on Craigslist are pretty limited.
Besides, San Francisco may hold the record for highest minimum wage for only a few months -- Santa Fe is set to raise its wage to $10.32 in March. The cost of living there is estimated to be about 38 percent lower than San Francisco's. You do the math.