Hardworking New Yorkers shouldn’t have to worry about whether they’ll have enough money to put food on the table or if they’ll be able to pay the rent or mortgage at the end of the month.
Everyone who puts in an honest day’s work should be able to provide for themselves and their family. That’s why the Assembly passed sweeping changes to the state’s minimum wage laws to help lift working families up — because far too many people are struggling just to get by.
As the minimum wage increases continue at the end of this year, many New Yorkers can expect to see a bump in their pay. On Dec. 31, the minimum wage in New York City will increase to $13, and for workers employed by small businesses with 10 or fewer employees, it will increase to $12.
The minimum wage in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties will increase to $11, while upstate New York will see minimum wage increase to $10.40.
And that isn’t the last of it — workers will continue to see increases for the next few years.
It’s no secret that the minimum wage has not kept up with the rising cost of living. As expenses like food, utilities and housing costs increase, the average salary has remained stagnant. From 2007 to 2014, wages fell for all but the highest wage brackets, when adjusted for inflation. Low wages and unfair pay exacerbate inequality and continue the harsh cycle of poverty.
There is also a misconception that those working minimum wage jobs are mostly young people. But that’s simply not true. The majority of minimum-wage workers are adults, not teenagers — half of people making $15 or less are 35 or older. And those who are married or have children make up more than 40 percent of minimum-wage workers.
Additionally, it’s important to note that increased wages lead to a stronger economy. Of the 13 states that raised their minimum wage in 2014, employment growth was seen in 12 of them. When employees believe they are being adequately compensated for their hard work, businesses see better productivity and decreased turnover. And consumers have more money in their pockets to buy goods and services, boosting demand and creating jobs.
A higher minimum wage also acknowledges the very real problem of rising inequality in America. In 1965, CEOs made 20 times more than the average worker. In 1989, they made 59 times more.
Today, CEOs make 271 times more than the average worker. Clearly, there is something deeply wrong with our economic system, and the problem is only going to be exacerbated by the federal tax plan that transfers wealth from the poor and middle class, to the rich and corporations.
It’s imperative that we continue to fight to level the playing field and combat income inequality.
The Assembly majority is committed to serving New Yorkers’ best interests, and raising the minimum wage is part of that commitment. It will help pull hardworking New Yorkers out of poverty and put the American Dream within reach for more families.
Raising the minimum wage was not only the smart thing to do, it was the right thing to do. Opportunity, economic security and success shouldn’t be reserved for a lucky few, but should be available to all.
The author is the Assembly representative for the 81st District, which includes Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Van Cortlandt Village, Kingsbridge Heights, Marble Hill, Norwood, Woodlawn and Wakefield.