MYTHS & FACTS ABOUT RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE

Economists believe that a $15 minimum wage is too high for New York.

 

More than 200 economists have endorsed a $15 federal minimum wage by 2020, finding that raising the minimum to $15 an hour “will be an effective means of improving living standards for low-wage workers and their families and will help stabilize the economy…” Even Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman recently endorsed a $15 minimum wage when he explained, in a recent address at the City University of New York, that “there’s absolutely no reason to think that a fifteen dollar minimum wage will be a problem for New York.

 

 

Increasing the minimum wage will lead to job losses.

 

Studies show that raising the minimum wage boosts incomes for working families with little to no impact on employment.

 

 

In places like Seattle that have passed $15 minimum wage increases, businesses have started to close.

 

In Seattle, the first major city to adopt a $15 wage, the region’s unemployment rate hit an eight-year low of 3.6 percent in August 2015, much lower that Washington’s statewide unemployment rate of 5.3 percent. And as the $15 wage phases in, Seattle’s restaurant industry has continued to grow. In a front-page story titled “Apocalypse Not: $15 and the Cuts that Never Came,” the Puget Sound Business Journal reported on “The minimum wage meltdown that never happened.” King County, where Seattle is located, is on track to break last year’s record for the number of business permits issued to food service establishments.  Business owners who had publicly opposed the $15 minimum wage are in the process of expanding operations.

 

 

A $15 minimum wage is too high too much and would hurt workers and the state economy.

 

A $15 minimum wage is not that high for New York. The cost of living for a single adult is projected to range from $15.72 in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls region, to $24.38 in New York City by 2021. A $15 minimum wage would translate to 58 percent of the state’s overall median wage by that same year.

 

 

Employers cannot adjust to a gradually phased in $15 minimum wage.

 

A growing list of businesses and employer organizations are supporting Governor Cuomo’s $15 minimum wage proposal, ranging from trade associations like the Retail Council of New York State and the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, to individual businesses like Amalgamated Bank and Ben and Jerry’s.

  • Even Popeye's CEO, Cheryl Bachelder, recently told CNN Money, "Everybody in retail is dealing with an increase in minimum wage...We will adjust to increased costs just like we have before. Life will go on. There’s been too much hubbub about it."
  • And Harlem restaurateur, Marcus Samuelsson, told Crain's New York Business, "I have 160 employees—we adjusted to the health care law, and we will have to adjust to [a $15 minimum wage]. As a small-business owner, I know that change is something that comes constantly.”

 

 

A $15 minimum wage would be unsustainable for New York’s small businesses.

 

  • It’s large companies, not mom-and-pop businesses, that employ most of the workers earning less than $15 in New York.
  • Most small businesses are service industry firms like dry cleaners, bodegas and diners that serve local customers.  When the minimum wage goes up, they and their competitors are all on the same playing field and can gradually adjust their prices to cover the cost without being put at a disadvantage.
  • Based on New York’s experiences with past minimum wage increases, and the recent experiences in cities like San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle with significant minimum wage increases, there’s no evidence that transitioning to higher wages have hurt small businesses or changed the mix of large and small businesses.
  • A growing number of individual small businesses, and trade groups representing small businesses like the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, are endorsing the $15 minimum wage.

 

 

A $15 minimum wage will cost the state and taxpayers a lot.

 

Right now, New York taxpayers are subsidizing huge corporations’ low wages as millions of workers are forced to rely on state safety net programs for support. Raising the minimum wage will save the state budget significant amounts in safety net expenditures.

 

 

Raising the minimum wage to $15 won’t help workers, since they will lose significant amounts of government benefits leaving them little better off than they were.

 

  • The major safety net benefits that most of New York’s low-wage workers receive all have gradual phase-outs. This means that workers are always significantly better off for each additional dollar that they earn.
  • Moreover, because most full-time low-wage workers earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, receiving a raise to $15 will help many more workers afford to access health coverage, either through their employer or through the New York State of Health marketplace.  It’s estimated that raising the minimum wage from $10 to $15 would increase from 58% to 77% the portion of low-wage workers who can afford to access health coverage.