What a horrible time for NY to raise its minimum wage

With the start of the new year, the mandatory minimum wage for upstate workers jumps a dollar, to $14.20/hour. With soaring inflation, New York’s labor market lagging, and a dreaded recession on the horizon, it’s hard to think of a worse time for such a jump.

So what do these smart progressives want? Following increased. They never learn.

A few years ago, radical leftists teamed up with Labor to get lawmakers to agree to a staggering proposal 67% hike – from $9 to $15 – that would span a few years starting in 2016. The rate for city workers hit $15 in 2020, and for those in Westchester and Long Island, 2022.

Meanwhile, New York state has yet to recover all of its pre-pandemic jobs, even as the rest of the country more than recovered months ago. Unemployment here (4.3%) also lags behind the country (3.6%). And young people in New York who are just entering the labor market, between the ages of 16 and 24, that is to say the most affected by the minimum wage, have been particularly affected. In October, according to State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, 17.9% could not find work in the city and 9.3% elsewhere in the state; nationally, the figure was just 8.3%

Yet upstate businesses, already squeezed by inflation, will have to pay workers more, forcing many to simply cut jobs and/or raise prices. As numerous studies have shown, in the face of wage increases, employers not only hire fewer workers, but also substitute more skilled workers for less skilled workers.

So the rise to $14.20 will not only make inflation worse, it will also hurt the post-COVID employment recovery and hamper job prospects for low-skilled workers.

Regardless: Progressives in the Legislative Assembly are already beating the drums for an even higher rate, $21, to be phased in by 2026. That’s a 233% jump from the $9 rate in just 10 years.

If the idea is to completely kill the state’s economy and dash the hopes of young, low-skilled workers, that’s a fantastic plan. But for these workers and anyone feeling squeezed by higher prices and fearing a recession, it’s a sock in the mouth.


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