Last year thousands of MomsRising.org members told Governor Coumo that NY’s outdated minimum wage hurts working women and families. Along with our partners, we kept the pressure on and last week during the State of the State, the Governor joined our call and declared, “The current minimum wage is unlivable.”
He’s right! Full-time working New Yorkers earn $7.25 an hour if they make minimum wage. This is only $15,080 for full-time, year-round work. And get this, of the more than 880,000 members of New York’s workforce who earn minimum wage, MOST OF THEM ARE WOMEN!
New York, a state that has one of the highest costs of living in the nation, has a minimum wage that is the same as Nebraska’s–a state with one of the lowest costs of living in the country. And, there has only been a 10 cent increase of minimum wage in the last five years.
We have Cuomo’s attention, now it’s time for the state legislature to act!
Raising a family on just $290 per week in a state that has one of the highest costs of living in the United States sounds impossible. But, that’s exactly what some full-time working New Yorkers try to do if they earn the $7.25 an hour minimum wage.
A higher minimum wage will help the state’s lowest-paid workers make ends meet, and indexing the minimum wage to rise automatically with the cost of living will protect the purchasing power of the minimum wage from eroding as the price of basic goods rises. With the cost of food, rent, and utilities always on the rise in New York, it’s impossible for the minimum wage to remain stagnant.
Eighty percent of all New Yorkers want to raise in the minimum wage. And for good reason: A yearly income of $15,000 puts a single mom with two children under the federal poverty line. That’s bad for the economy.
*Tell the Senate and Assembly to help our economy and stand up for working women and families. Raise New York’s minimum wage to at least $8.75 per hour, with indexing to establish annual increases that keep pace with inflation.
Raising the minimum wage DOES NOT result in job loss. The most rigorous research conducted over the past 15 years, including studies comparing job growth trends in neighboring counties across state lines with different minimum wages, have found that higher minimum wages do not result in job losses. Importantly, this research shows that these trends are the same even for minimum wage increases implemented during weak economic periods, such as the 2009 federal minimum wage increase.
Contrary to myth, the minimum wage is chiefly about large corporations, not mom-and-pop businesses. Large chains employ two-thirds of all low-wage workers in the country. In retail, New York’s largest low-wage industry with 269,000 employees, the data show that large chains are paying substantially less than smaller retailers – on average, a stunning 23% less.
Women business leaders get it! Margot Dorfman, CEO of the US Women’s Chamber of Commerce, with over half a million members said, “The number one problem for our member businesses is that the recovery is slow because sales are still weak. Too many of their customers have been out of work or are working for lower pay or are fearful about their economic future, and as a result have cut back on their spending. Raising the minimum wage puts dollars in the pockets of the workers who are by necessity most likely to spend them immediately in the local economy.”
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have higher minimum wages than New York. This includes neighboring Connecticut ($8.25), Massachusetts ($8.00) and Vermont ($8.60). Even much lower-cost-of-living sunbelt and Midwest states like Florida, Arizona, Ohio, Illinois, and Montana have higher minimum wages than New York. In Washington State, the minimum wage is $9.19 – nearly $2 higher than New York.
Unlike New York, ten states automatically update or “index” their minimum wages each year to keep pace with the rising cost of living. If New York’s minimum wage had kept up with inflation over the past forty years, it would be approximately $10.70 per hour today. New York’s minimum wage has only gone up 10 cents in the last five years.
The bottom line is this: Raising the minimum wage will strengthen New York’s families. When our families are strong our economy benefits!
Together we are a strong force for women and families.
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