January 19, 2015 - By Al Vaughters
Cuomo calls for highest minimum wage in the U.S., higher in NYC
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – As Governor Andrew Cuomo puts the finishing touches on his State of the State address for Wednesday, he released one of the components of his plan for improving New York’s economy: raising the minimum wage.
Cuomo’s plan would raise the state’s minimum wage by a $1.50 an hour, by the end of 2016 to $10.50. New York’s minimum wage reached $8.75 an hour on December 31, 2014, and will rise to $9.00 by the end of 2015.
But for New York City, the governor wants to raise the minimum wage even higher–by a dollar more–to $11.50 an hour. Cuomo says, it is the reality of living in the big city.
“The New York City market is arguably the most expensive market in the United States of America, and it is a much more expensive market than other parts of the state. So it makes sense to me to have a two-tiered minimum wage.”
At “Spoiled Rotten”–a gift shop on Elmwood Avenue–owner Katharine Jemison has 4 people that work for her, all of whom are paid above the minimum wage.
Cuomo’s plan would require Jemison to give some of her workers a pay raise, and likely cut into here bottom line. Jemison said she would have to re-work hours and wages, but she is in favor of raising their pay.
“Make some decisions on how many employees to have, and how much of the hours they are going to work themselves to accommodate it. But I think you have to provide a living wage for people, and were stagnant for too long.”
Therese Deutschlander, owner of the “Thin Ice” gift store, also on Elmwood Avenue, has one employee who is paid more than the minimum wage. Deutschlander believes the more you pay your employees, the more productivity you will get from them.
“I think for a lot of businesses it will take some re-configuration of the finances and what not, but I think ultimately the employers are going to value the employees more, and the employees will then work harder in kind.”
If New York raises the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour, it would be highest statewide minimum in the country. Despite the dollar-an-hour higher wage, New York City would not have the highest local minimum wage. Seattle has that title.