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Episode 562: A Mall Divided

Posted: August 22, 2014

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A California mall straddles the border between two cities — and the minimum wage is higher on one side of the mall.

The boundary line between the city of San Jose and the city of Santa Clara runs through the Westfield Valley Fair Mall.

The boundary line between the city of San Jose and the city of Santa Clara runs through the Westfield Valley Fair Mall. Steve Henn

The Westfield Valley Fair Mall in California is like any other mall except for one thing: half of the mall is in the city of San Jose and the other half is in the city of Santa Clara. The boundary line runs right through the mall.

For a long time, this didn't matter. But in 2012, one city — San Jose — raised its minimum wage from $8 an hour to $10 an hour. This change created two economic worlds within a single, large building. Employees doing more or less the same work, just steps away from each other, started making different wages.

On today's show: minimum wage stories from a single mall. What happens when some stores suddenly have to pay their workers more — and others are still paying less.

Music: Fitz and The Tantrums's "Out Of My League." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook/Spotify/ Tumblr. Download the Planet Money iPhone App.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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