$15 Minimum Wage in New York

On Thursday September 10, 2015 New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made an announcement about his plan to raise the minimum wage in the state of New York to $15 per hour. Mr. Cuomo made his announcement in the presence of Vice-President Joe Biden.

Earlier this year upon Cuomo’s initiative the New York acting labor commissioner Mr. Musolino signed an order to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for those who work in fast-food industry in New York. Now the governor wants to extend it to all low wage workers in the state. He underlines in his statement that not only fast-food workers deserve $15 an hour, but all other workers in his state, including construction workers, home health care workers and taxi drivers.

Business community took a cautious stance with regard to the initiative. Some experts and business owners believe that such a dramatic raise of minimum wage (over 70%) will have a negative effect on the state businesses and ultimately lead to price hikes and layoffs.

However, Gov. Cuomo argues that the measure would be a boon, not a burden for the state economy. The plan will be phased in over the years to make it easier for businesses to adapt. While the current median wage in New York City is about $22 an hour, it is much less in other corners of the state of New York like Buffalo and Richmond, where it is closer to $15 an hour. According to Cuomo, “raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will bring fairness to 2.2 million working New Yorkers.”

Vice-President Biden said that President Obama was lobbying the Congress to pass the law on the federal minimum wage of $12 an hour. The minimum wage increase looks inevitable not only among Democrats. The Republican led Senate would also probably have to consider raising minimum wage in view of the 2016 election year.

The minimum wage increase will help a lot of low-paid workers who live in poverty and cannot afford decent living. The wage hike will also make them less dependent on food stamps and other social benefits. Cuomo will need an approval of his plan by the state legislature in Albany. The current New York minimum wage is $8.75. It will increase to $9 on December 31, 2016.