Over the past few decades, the gap between the wealthy and poor in our country has increased dramatically. In an effort to bring fairness to working families, the Assembly passed legislation I helped pass that raises the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour in 2013 and links it to the rate of inflation starting January 2014 (A.9148). The measure also increases the minimum wage for food-service workers who receive tips from $5.00 to $5.86 per hour, and then links it to the rate of inflation in 2014, helping more Brooklyn families make ends meet.
With the majority of our state’s wealth and prosperity concentrated in the hands of very few, more and more New Yorkers have joined the ranks of the working poor. This has left many families working harder for less. These staggeringly low wages threaten the well-being of many families who struggle to afford even the most basic necessities. And with the cost of living as high as it is, it’s unrealistic to expect anyone – let alone an entire family – to survive on a minimum-wage salary.
Over the past five years, New York’s minimum wage has only increased 10 cents per hour. For working families dependent on minimum-wage salaries, these minor increases are simply not enough. According to a recent Quinnipiac Poll, an overwhelming 78 percent of New Yorkers agree that the minimum wage should increase – with 37 percent behind increasing it to $8.50 an hour and 52 percent supporting an even higher increase.
By putting more money in the pockets of low-wage workers, we will not only help families afford the cost of food, clothing and rent, we will strengthen our economic recovery as well. Providing families with a little extra money will help get them back into our local stores, purchasing products and services again. Boosting consumer spending will help grow local businesses and create jobs.
To counter claims that an increase in the minimum wage could hurt job creation, one need only look at studies that show just the opposite. Hikes in the minimum wage did not lead to job loss, even during times of high unemployment.
Currently, New York’s neighboring states of Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts – as well as 15 other states across the country – all have higher minimum wages than New York. With a proud history as one of the most progressive states in the nation, we should be leading the way, not lagging behind.
No one who works full time should be poor, so I urge the Senate to pass this crucial measure. To show your support and sign the petition to increase the minimum wage, please visit RaisethewageNY.com.
As always, please feel free to contact me about this or any other important community issue at 718-257-2584 or via email at email@example.com.