New York: Sign-On Statement of Civil Society Organizations
Dear Governor Cuomo,
We write to express our strong support for raising New York’s outdated minimum wage. We urge you to do everything in your power to ensure that New York raises its minimum wage to at least $8.50 per hour this year, and indexes it to keep pace with inflation. As civil society organizations from across the state, we strongly believe that New York State – which now falls far behind our sister states – must again be a leader in ensuring that working people earn decent wages. We are counting on your leadership.
According to a Quinnipiac Poll conducted this month, a whopping 78 percent of New Yorkers support raising the minimum wage, including a majority of Republican voters, 76 percent of independent voters, and 91 percent of Democratic voters. They join a chorus of voices – including Crain’s New York Business and Mayor Michael Bloomberg – in urging an increase in New York’s minimum wage.
New York State’s minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum. Someone working full-time at minimum wage earns $290 a week, or just $15,080 yearly working all 52 weeks of the year. This is far below the income people in New York need just to cover the basic costs of food, housing, transportation, healthcare, and other essentials—and is leaving hard-working people and families in poverty.
Making things worse, the real value of the minimum wage has declined dramatically over the years. If New York’s minimum wage had kept pace with inflation over the past 40 years, it would be approximately $10.80 per hour today. During the 1960’s and 1970’s, New York’s minimum wage averaged above the federal poverty level. Today, at $7.25 per hour, New York’s minimum wage is well below the federal poverty level. In a state with one of the greatest inequality gaps between the rich and the poor, there is no excuse for our current minimum wage.
Eighteen states have outpaced New York, including neighboring Connecticut – where a House committee recently passed a bill to raise and index that state’s current minimum wage of $8.25; Vermont, whose minimum wage of $8.46 will rise again on January 1st as a result of indexing; and Washington State, whose minimum wage of $9.04 is projected to be at least $9.50 by 2014 as a result of indexing. An increase in the minimum wage would not just help working families in New York make ends meet. Raising the minimum wage is a key strategy for setting New York’s economy on the path to real recovery. It is one of the most effective ways to stimulate the consumer spending that drives our economy, without adding a dime to the deficit. The Fiscal Policy Institute estimates 7,500 jobs will be created in New York State from the increase of the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour.
More than a million workers stand to benefit from increasing New York’s minimum wage to $8.50 per hour – just over 11% of all New York workers. As organizations who work with and on behalf of significant numbers of New York State residents who earn at or near the minimum wage, we are counting on you to make sure that New York raises its minimum wage to $8.50 per hour this year, and indexes it to keep pace with rising costs of living. It is the right thing to do.
Add Your Name to this Statement by Contacting Andrés Dae Keun Kwon, Raise NY's Minimum Wage Campaign Coordinator, akwon AT workingfamilies DOT org