A slight majority of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll is opposed to legislation increasing New York’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.50.
The state Assembly recently voted to raise New York’s minimum wage to $8.50, effective next January. Future hikes would be tied to annual increases in the Consumer Price Index.
The Republican majority in the state Senate is opposed to a minimum wage increase, however, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has voiced support for a higher minimum wage, says an increase will not happen this year. Still, Democrats and other backers have launched a major push for passage before the end of the session.
New York’s minimum wage last rose from $6.75 to $7.15 an hour on Jan. 1, 2007. In July 2009, the federal government raised the nationwide minimum to its current level of $7.25, superseding the state law.
Supporters say increasing the minimum wage is a matter of economic fairness. Opponents maintain it would raise small-business costs and reduce employment, having a negative impact on the individuals it is intended to help.
When a similar Snap Poll question was asked in February, the results were flipped. Some 48 percent of respondents at that time said the minimum wage should not be raised, compared with 52 percent who supported an increase. Only 32 percent favored an increase to $8.50, however; 20 percent backed a smaller hike.
A statewide Siena Research Institute poll conducted in early May found that 78 percent of New Yorkers—including 58 percent of Republicans—support an increase to $8.50.
Roughly 650 readers participated in this week’s Snap Poll, which was conducted May 29.
Do you support or oppose the bill increasing New York’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.50?
If raising the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour improves entry-level workers’ standard of living, why not make it $10? Better yet, how about $20 per hour? In my view, abolish the minimum wage entirely and let the market set the rate.
—Mike Charland, Liebel & Merle Sales Inc.
The current minimum wage is a joke. There is no way anyone could live on such a low wage. I think it should be increased to $10 per hour. Even that is insufficient today.
Why isn’t there a different minimum wage for younger than 18 and for older than 18?
Low-income people spend a greater portion of their income, so this money will go directly into the economy. It will boost New York’s economy and particularly that of western New York. Probably this is too modest an increase.
Increasing the minimum wage would only increase the unemployment rate. The highest unemployment rate is among the young, and this would only add to the problem. All companies need to stay competitive with wages and benefits to get good employees. Let the system work.
Let market factors determine the lowest wage at which a business can attract and retain the talent … to operate effectively. Factors could be other than wage—health care, paid time off, education benefits, flexible schedules, job skills training, child care, meals, transportation, cell phone, etc.
—D. Kennedy, Webster
The marketplace is setting wages rates just fine. This is only interference.
—Jim Haefner, Pittsford
What will it take for New York and its Democrats to stop devising ways to collect more taxes for their continual redistribution efforts? Just when it seemed like there might be some hope with Gov. Cuomo, it is back to same old, same old.
—Bob Worden, Penn Yan
Once again, the proponents of the increase have a greater concern for the featherbedding of their voter potential than for the legitimate concern about the increase’s impact on the state’s business picture. It may be “only” a $1.25-per-hour bump (17 percent), but most of our already stretched businesses can ill afford these politicians playing with someone else’s money—again!
—Tony Compisi, Monroe Warehousing & Distribution
An increase in minimum wage causes layoffs of people on the lowest end of the wage scale. It may also cause some businesses which are just making it in the current economic climate to go under.
A raise of $2,600 seems a pittance, but when you only make $15,080 per year, it would be fabulous. For many of us, that yearly income is merely the property tax on our houses. If I had a couple hundred factory workers making minimum wage, I’d have to worry, but 15 kids at McDonalds? Raise the prices!
—Daniel Mossien, architect
It needs to be raised to $10 per hour. Scrimping on the backs of the working class and the former and now disintegrating middle class is unseemly, destructive and lacking in good economic sense.
—Claude Wren, Wren Consulting
I support the increased minimum wage. It puts money in the hands of people who spend every dime they earn on food, housing and even education. But I doubt the sincerity of the politicians who are posturing about the increase. Without a change in either the New York State income tax rates or the state sales tax rates, the extra $1.25 will fuel a considerable increase in state tax revenue. I would be so bold as to suggest an adjustment in the New York tax structure that would give the low-wage worker more money without increasing state tax revenue.
The idea of indexing increases to the minimum wage to the CPI is something that should have been done long ago to avoid the protracted battles that occur every so often when an increase is proposed. The federal government should implement the same idea. Social Security increases are indexed; why not the minimum wage?
—David Belcher, LeRoy
What a great idea! While we are at it, let’s increase individual and corporate tax rates, pass some more unfunded mandates to local governments and school districts so they are forced to raise property taxes, increase workers comp rates and finally let’s increase sales tax rates. That should insure that New York will be the worst state to have a business or be in business!
—Peter Short, J.J. Short Associates Inc.
Minimum wage laws are a socialist scheme to assure that marginal workers will have no jobs and have to rely on the government dole for support. In that way the party that supports them will be assured of the recipients’ vote that is being bought with taxpayer money. It also assures the younger, inexperienced worker will not be employed and thus not allowed to gain any work experience, freeing them up to do drugs and loiter in the streets.
—Jim Weisbeck, Bloomfield
Helloooooooooo folks, it’s another Sheldon Silver bowing to the unions’ ploy again. The unions didn’t do so well with the negotiations with Cuomo this year, so a dirty little secret is that with each increase of the minimum wage, all union wages go up the same amount. When’s this backdoor crap going to stop?
—Jim Duke, Victor
Minimum wage laws are a socialist scheme to assure that marginal workers will have no jobs and have to rely on the government dole for support. In that way the party that supports them will be assured of the recipients’ vote that is being bought with taxpayer money. It also assures the younger inexperienced worker will not be employed and thus not allowed to gain any work experience freeing them up to do drugs and loiter in the streets.
—Jim Weisbeck, Bloomfield
What a great idea! While we are at it let’s increase individual and corporate tax rates, pass some more unfunded mandates to local governments and school districts so they are forced to raise property taxes, increase workers comp rates and finally let’s increase sales tax rates. That should ensure that New York will be the worst state to have a business or be in business!
—Peter Short, J.J. Short Associates Inc.
The minimum wage should go away, period! Among other things, it does not enable companies to pay others who should be paid more—more! Reregulation is the only way to go at this point. New York residents and the governor say they want jobs? Well let the free enterprise system do just that. Government can only create an artificial job market.
—D. Eaton, Fairport
The government has absolutely no right to dictate to a business the rate of pay to an employee. Minimum wage jobs are for entry-level, unskilled employees. Want to earn more money? Pay attention in school or seek training for skilled work. We should end welfare to see how valuable a job for $7.25 an hour is. If the politicians continue to drive business out of New York State—who will pay the bills? There should be no such thing as a "minimum wage." Businesses should be able to offer a job at a market-competitive wage. Take away government social services as a competitor to minimum wage by eliminating welfare. Welfare is the common denominator of all that is in a state of decline in New York State. This topic is a distraction to solving the real problems of New York State. I’d rather have Albany working on tax reduction, infrastructure, and public safety. That’s what I want my employees working on (my tax dollars pay my public servants) every day with all the skills, diligence and expertise they have! I would be willing to pay them "minimum wage" until they could fulfill the duties of their job.
These minimum wage laws kill jobs for unskilled young people. These low wage jobs allow employers to "take a chance" on an unskilled individuals and allow the individual to learn some "work ethic" (i.e., come to work every day, come on time, take only an hour for lunch, etc.). Once people build their skill set, they can advance to better jobs. Raising the minimum wage only kills those low entry jobs and condemns New York to a large population of people who never enter the workforce (thus are not counted as “unemployed”). If this is such a good idea, why $8.50? Why not $20? I mean, there is no cost to do this, right? If New York really wanted to lead the nation in something other than high taxes and welfare, it would eliminate the minimum wage.
—Jerry Lighthouse, C.P.M., CPIM Advanced Purchasing Technology, LLC
Let’s call it “the starting wage.”
—M. Donald O’Neill
Increasing or mandating any wage level loses jobs, since employers base what they pay an individual upon the value of their service. If that value is artificially increased as Gov. Cuomo desires, then employers may cut jobs to better afford the wage increase or hire fewer people into those minimum wage jobs. Many minimum wage jobs are jobs with low skill level requirements or jobs where “tips” often compensate the employee for the balance of their wage. Also, by increasing the minimum wage the state does not guarantee it’s a “living wage.” If anything it may dissuade employers from hiring and it is often those who the legislature thinks they are helping who may suffer most from this increase. The real way to help people is to see that public schools offer more training in jobs requiring high skill levels and by the education establishment to encourage their students to look into more technical training instead of simply going to college. I know many college grads who are now working minimum wage jobs because they haven’t the training to get higher paying skilled jobs.
—Michael F. Kloppel, chairman, Ontario County Conservative Party, Canandaigua
It is a job killer. Unemployment among urban teens is over 50 percent; a higher minimum wage will make things worse, not better. Are the politicians looking to incite unrest?
If only we had a democrat in the governor’s mansion to lead on this issue, instead of leading on reducing the taxes of the 1 percent with the end of the Fair Share Tax.
—Jim Bertolone, Rochester AFL-CIO
Imposing a higher minimum wage doesn’t allow natural market forces to prevail. It will also increase unemployment in the same group of people the minimum wage is intended to help. This is not logical to me.
—Mike Kaser, Penfield
Rising minimum wages just hurts the marginally employed and teenagers. Cuts in state spending, not the rate of future spending increases instead. Remove all unfunded mandates on Counties, allowing counties to manage their own affairs. Downsize the NYS Education Department to standards only; go back to Regents, Non-Regents and vocational diplomas, then allow local Educational Districts/BOCES manage to the Regents, non-Regents and vocational diploma standards. Not everyone is made to go to college, yet we have plenty of well paying above minimum wage jobs with benefits going unfilled. Getting control (power out of Albany) to local institutions will result in greater efficiency, measurable results and lower property taxes. Remove the 50 percent property tax cap assessment on the five Burroughs of New York City, whereby those living in New York City pay all taxes at the same rate (100 percent of assessed value) as the rest of New York State. Stop corporate welfare incentives, just lower the business tax rates statewide and rid some burdensome regulations, allow all of New York State to attract business and not by bribing companies via selective tax breaks to move to New York or "stay" when they "threaten" to leave.
—David G. Rusin, East Rochester
If you raise the price of X (young, unskilled labor), you will get less of it. The data generated to see if that statement is true almost unanimously confirm it. It’s also common sense. But the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in one’s head is almost limitless.
—Peter Durant, Nixon Peabody LLP
At this moment in Washington State, the minimum wage is $9 an hour, and Seattle is the seventh fastest growing city, according to Moody’s, so the old adage that it can inhibit growth is not the case. Yes, it true that labor cost are always a big part of any business, but whatever the business, it is a fact that if you have enough activity to support your cost you can pay a better wage and as an owner still make a profit. There is no one in the state of New York who can make a living on $7.50 an hour in fact it is very hard for anyone being paid that amount to actually be able to afford a car and insurance and gas to work at a minimum wage job. Most retail jobs are minimum wage, and little or no bonuses or incentives for the employer to raise wages unless pushed by the government. National chains that are making millions per year practice exploitative labor practices, limit hours, have mandatory flex time, pay no benefits, and to top it off pay minimum wage, while the CEO pulls down $8 million dollars a year. These business are a far cry from the little coffee shop grossing one hundred thousand a year, if the state wants to help small business then create a sliding progressive rate for unemployment and workers comp and give smaller business a break on those expenses in which would help them afford paying a near living expense. The average rate of pay for a person twenty years ago was $23 an hour with pensions and health care, now the average is a Wal-Mart job with no benefits and a poor wage and hours, regrettably this is now the norm rather than an exception. Right now, up to 70 percent of baby boomers have no retirement except for Social Security, and after they have been fired from their middle-class job are now working for minimum wage. Make the larger corporations pay up and raise the minimum wage.
—Joe Wierzbowski, Plymouth Photo Studio
6/1/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.