Cuomo: Raise New York State's minimum wage to $15 an hour for all industries

cuomo biden 15 minimum wage screengrab

Cuomo announced the push during an event in New York City with Joe Biden.


Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that he will be pushing to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour. The announcement accompanied word from the governor that the state Department of Labor has accepted the wage board recommendation that the minimum wage for fast food workers increased to $15 an hour.

Cuomo's push to raise the overall state minimum wage isn't that surprising (even if he had downplayed the push for $15 earlier this year). He had tried to get the legislature to accept an increase to $10.50 ($11.50 in NYC) during the last legislative session. And the fast food wage board plan was pretty clearly an attempt to out maneuver the opposition in the legislature. (State Senate Republicans -- the most likely road block to the minimum wage increase -- criticized Cuomo's handling of the fast food wage increase Thursday.) [NYT] [Politics on the Hudson]

Invoking the memory of both FDR and his father, Andrew called the proposed increase as matter of economic justice. "You cannot support a family on 18,000 a year in New York State, not to mention having a decent living," he said with Joe Biden looking on in New York City. "Every working man and woman in the state of new york deserves $15 an hour as a minimum wage and we're not going to stop until we get it done."

The state's current minimum wage is $8.75 and it's set to increase to $9 an hour at the end of this year. Cuomo said the proposed increase to $15 would be phased in along the same schedule as the fast food wage increase -- full effect by the end of 2018 in NYC, by 2021 everywhere else in the state -- and eventually affect 2.2 million workers in New York State.

There is, of course, a wider context for this push. The "Fight for 15" rallies organized by labor groups around the country earlier this year seemed to play a key role in planting the idea of the $15 an hour level. Zooming out even further, there's the issue that wage growth in the United States has been stagnant, even as the unemployment rate has been falling. [NYT] [Economist]

nys minimum wage history cropped
A minimum wage consistent across many industries in New York State dates back to 1962. Here's how it's increased over time, with a comparison in 2015 dollars for some perspective. (Inflation calculations via the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics calculator.)

One of the major arguments against raising the minimum wage is the assertion that it will end up in fewer jobs. Cuomo tried to push back against that idea Thursday, arguing that the households that will benefit from the higher minimum wage will spend their new earnings, which will in turn stimulate the economy. But the fact of the matter is -- as laid out by this interesting NYT article in July -- that no one really knows what an increase of this size will do to the economy. It's uncharted territory.

Another part of this to keep an eye on is how differences between regions, particularly upstate and downstate, affect the debate. Because there is a huge gap in the cost of living between those two regions.

There's a figure called "regional price parity" (it's kept by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis). An area with prices that match the national average has a RPP of 100 -- higher, more expensive; lower, less expensive. NYC's RPP is 122. For the Albany metro area it's 99.1. For Buffalo it's 93.8.

So a $15-an-hour minimum wage doesn't mean the same thing for New York City as it does for Albany (or, even more so, a place like Utica). And while the Cuomo admin's proposed two-region phase-in schedule is an attempt to address some of this difference, the gap will still be there.

More on AOA related to the minimum wage:
+ How much does it cost to have "a secure yet modest standard of living"?
+ New York State set to raise fast food minimum wage to $15 per hour
+ A few ways of thinking about the minimum wage

screengrab: Cuomo admin livestream


Will the last one out of upstate NY please turn off the lights?

Someone turned off the light at the end of the tunnel

This is something that should make New Yorkers proud!

If you work full-time, you should earn a livable wage. We're talking about $30,000 per year, which is still not very much to make ends meet.

I don't care if you flip burgers, empty trash bins in an office building, etc. Every working person should earn enough so they do not live their lives in despair, worrying about whether they can afford food or healthcare.

We should be proud to take a step closer to ensuring the basic material needs of our fellow citizens are being met.

This will destroy New York business just like every other minimum wage increase did *rolls eyes*

Cuomo should follow his own advice then. Every state employee thats in a position of Grade 9 or lower starts off below $15 an hour. They are also required to have additional deductions from their gross pay that private sector doesn't require. Why doesn't he lead by example?

Did I read that right?
"Cuomo tried to push back against that idea Thursday, arguing that the households that will benefit from the higher minimum wage will spend their new earnings"

A Democrat that believes in trickle-down economics? Wow!

I don't have a problem with people earning $15 an hour IF in order to get it you have to have a high school diploma. I don't want to force a business to pay $15 an hr to people that refused to take advantage of a FREE education.

I know I shouldn't feed the trolls...

But, trickle-down economics follows a general model of providing tax breaks, etc. to the wealthy and corporations, with the faulty idea they will reinvest that money into their business and therefore create jobs.

Raising the minimum wage, on the other hand, puts money into the hands of those earning the least. Money that will be spent quickly on items like food, housewares, clothing, entertainment, etc., and not deposited directly into some tax-sheltered investment vehicle. This additional economic activity is expected to result in increase demand, business and (hopefully) jobs.

>Cuomo should follow his own advice then. Every state employee thats in a position of Grade 9 or lower starts off below $15 an hour

Why go this far? Just look at SUNY abuses.
SUNY adjunct professors earn $5 or less per hour (I kid you not!)

Thanks for the schooling Jay...

I'm in favor of $15 minimum hour wage IF conditions fit; IE: the business employees over 40,50 etc. Not in favor of forcing a local small restaurant with 5-8 employees to experience overall (with H.I., payroll taxes, OT etc.) labor costs of $19-20 which will result in $39,000-$41,000 per employee.

Walmart, Red Robin, Best Buy, TGIF's, they can all pay the $15 minimum wage.

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