This Fact Sheet courtesy of the National Employment Law ProjectBackground: New York’s Minimum Wage Remains Stagnant while the State Legislature Considers Salary Raises
NY State Senate Should Pass Assembly Bill 9148
- In the coming weeks, Albany insiders expect the New York Senate and Assembly to hold a special legislative session, during which they will vote to raise their own salaries from the current $79,500 to over $100,000 per year.
- A $100,000 base salary would make New York’s the highest paid state legislature in the nation.
- The $20,000 pay raise under consideration is significantly more than the $15,080 that a full-time minimum wage earner in New York makes in an entire year. New York state legislators are considering raising their hourly pay from $45 per hour to $55 per hour while denying the lowest-paid workers in the state a modest $1.25 per hour raise.
- Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that he “would not consider a legislative pay raise . . . [until] the people’s business was being done in a thorough, responsible way,” singling out the minimum wage increase and his drug reform initiative as key issues remaining to be addressed.
- Governor Cuomo is right: New York state legislators should raise the wages of the state’s lowest-paid workers before increasing their own salaries.
Raising New York’s Minimum Wage will Benefit Workers, Businesses, and the State Economy
- In May, the state Assembly voted 98-49 to approve a proposal sponsored by Speaker Sheldon Silver (Assembly Bill 9148) that would raise New York’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour and index it to automatically adjust each year with the rising cost of living.
- The Assembly proposal was blocked in the Senate, however, as Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos refused to schedule a vote before the legislative session concluded for the summer.
- Eighteen states have already established higher minimum wages than New York, including the nearby states of Connecticut ($8.25), Massachusetts ($8.00), and Vermont ($8.46) as well as many low-wage Sunbelt states like Florida, Nevada, and Arizona.
- Assembly Bill 9148 would deliver important benefits to low-paid workers and the local economy:
- Raising the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour would generate more than $600 million in new consumer spending, translating to 5,230 new full-time jobs as higher sales lead businesses to hire more employees.
- More than 1 million low-paid workers in New York would see their wages rise as a result of this increase.
- Adults over the age of 20 make up 84 percent of workers that would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour. Over 83 percent of those affected work more than 20 hours per week.
- At $7.25 per hour, New York’s minimum wage remains decades out of date. If New York’s minimum wage had kept pace with the rising cost of living over the past 40 years, it would be approximately $10.70 per hour today.
- Assembly Bill 9148 would also establish automatic annual adjustments to the state minimum wage to keep pace with the rising cost of living. This key approach, known as “indexing,” has already been adopted by 10 states and has proven critical for ensuring that the real value of the minimum wage does not erode over time.
- The very small increases in the minimum wage that took effect in eight states on January 1, 2012 as a result of those states’ indexing laws will generate an additional $366 million in GDP and create the equivalent of more than 3,000 full-time jobs, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute.
- A stronger minimum wage reduces economic inequality. New York State has the greatest gap between rich and poor in the United States.
- More New Yorkers than ever are relying on low wage jobs, which is where growth has been concentrated since the recession. A report released in August by the Fiscal Policy Institute shows that New York has gained a net 194,000 low-wage jobs since June 2008, while losing a net 144,000 middle-wage jobs and losing a net 29,000 high-wage jobs.
- Contrary to myth, the minimum wage is chiefly about large corporations, not mom and pop businesses: 66 percent of low-wage workers across the United States are employed by large corporations like McDonald’s, Walmart and Yum! Brands, not small businesses. Furthermore, more than 70 percent of the biggest low-wage employers have already recovered from the recession and are enjoying strong profits – even as wages remain stagnant for their frontline employees.
- In retail, New York’s largest low-wage industry with 269,000 employees, the data show that large chains are paying 23 percent less to their workers than smaller retailers, according to an analysis by the Fiscal Policy Institute.
- A record number of voices from the business community have backed the increase, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Crain's New York Business. In addition, scores of individual businesses and trade associations such as Costco, Hopstop, ABC Home and Carpet, the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, Buffalo First, and Syracuse First have also backed the proposal.
- Raising the minimum wage is supported by the best economic research. The most rigorous national studies show that the scores of minimum wage increases that U.S. states adopted during the 1990’s and 2000’s raised worker pay without causing job losses – even when the economy was weak. These studies also demonstrate how previous research cited by corporate interests failed to control for key variables, such as basic differences in population, job growth trends, and local economies across regions of the country.