On March 5, the New York State Assembly decided to raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $9.00 per hour ($6.21 for workers earning tips). The bill passed by the State Assembly would raise wages beginning in January 2014 and would account for increases in the cost of living starting in 2015. It is now sitting at the State Senate, awaiting a decision from representatives earning more than an aspiring journalist could dream of making.
This decision should be a no-brainer. Raising the minimum wage would be beneficial for both the employers and the employees struggling in the recent economy with wages incomparable to New York State’s cost of living.
Talk of raising the minimum wage occurred at a national level with President Obama’s State of the Union speech on February 12. At the address Obama explained: “Even with the tax relief we’ve put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong.”
Obama also pointed out that since Congress last decided to raise the minimum wage to $7.25, 19 states have increased their minimum wage to greater than the national minimum. Locally, Governor Cuomo of New York has proposed raising the minimum wage to $8.75 in his budget plan.
The debate behind raising the minimum wage deals largely with how the economy and businesses will be affected by the change. Those against an increased minimum wage argue that businesses will be forced to downsize in order to compensate for the added employee expenses. However, the more money an individual has to spend, the higher the demand for product will be from businesses within New York.
Henry Ford, Founder of the Ford Motor Company, put this philosophy to practice in 1914 when he raised his factory’s minimum hourly wage to $5.00, even though the average wage at other companies was $2.94. Ford’s reasoning was practical: if he paid his employees more, they would be able to buy the product he was selling. The experiment was successful and he found that the wage increase lead to a lower turnover rate, requiring fewer resources to be spent training new employees.
This system worked wonders for Ford, so why are members of the New York Senate debating a bill that would aid hundreds of poverty-stricken families? State Senators are elected to act as a channel for us to voice our desires and concerns, representing New York State citizens. They are relatively accessible; we are able to reach their offices through phone or email simply by finding that information on the internet. This should be encouragement enough to take a stand on the issue, tell your representatives what you want and help better the lives of the people of New York.