Good news from New York on the minimum wage: the state Assembly passed a bill yesterday that would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour next year and index it to keep pace with inflation. The bill would also raise the minimum cash wage for food service workers (a particularly large segment of tipped workers) from $5.00 to $5.86 per hour and index it for inflation.
This is particularly good news for women, who make up close to two thirds of minimum wage workers in New York. A mom with two kids working full time at $7.25 per hour makes just $14,500 per year, leaving her family thousands of dollars below the poverty line. Raising the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour would provide a meaningful boost of $2,500 each year. And raising the tipped minimum wage for food service workers – like restaurant servers, who are mostly women – to $5.86 per hour would increase their earnings by more than $1,700 per year. Moreover, because women are the majority of minimum wage workers in New York, increasing the minimum wage could help to close the gap between men’s and women’s typical earnings in the state.
But the bill still needs to pass the Senate before it can get to Governor Andrew Cuomo (who has said he supports a minimum wage increase “in principle”). And unfortunately, a number of senators have expressed opposition to the minimum wage bill, trotting out false and tired arguments that an increase would “kill jobs.”
Let’s hope senators start paying attention to their constituents – according to a recent poll, 78 percent of New Yorkers support a minimum wage increase – and to the facts: a higher minimum wage would help, not hurt, New York’s economy. Raising the minimum wage does not cause job loss, even during periods of recession. And because minimum wage workers typically need all of their income just to make ends meet, they spend it quickly, spurring economic growth. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that raising New York’s minimum wage to $8.50 per hour would generate about $600 million in economic activity and create close to 5,000 jobs.
Seems to me that a vote in favor of a higher minimum wage should be an easy one for any New York senator to take.
p.s. A quick update from Illinois: we recently reported that the Senate Executive Committee would be voting on a minimum wage bill this week, but that vote has now been postponed until the end of the month. We’ll keep you posted!
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