NY Looks To Become The First State With A $15 Minimum Wage

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Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday his support for a plan to make New York the first state to implement a $15 an hour minimum wage.

New York has already been exploring policy options to increase its minimum wage. Back in July the state commission on labor approved a plan to raise wages for fast-food workers to $15 an hour. The new proposal, though, would expand the increase to every worker in the state. If approved by the state legislature, the increase would be phased in gradually.

Cuomo was joined by Vice President Joe Biden during his announcement. Biden, who is considering a presidential bid, has already been gaining favor with labor unions. For the most part, unions support minimum wage increases.

 “You’re leading the way for the country,” Biden said. “Anyone who works 40 hours a week shouldn’t have to live in poverty.”

Currently the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour but many states, cities and counties have gone well above it. Some cities have even gone as high as $15, with several others also considering such a jump. No state, however, has increased its minimum wage that much.

Supporters of the $15 minimum wage often claim it will help the poor and stimulate economic activity. Fight for $15 has been the main advocate behind the push. The union-backed group has utilized rallies and media marketing campaigns in its efforts.

Opponents, however, say such an increase will actually hurt the poor by limiting job opportunities. The benefits or negative outcomes of increasing the minimum wage usually depend on the study. Nevertheless, even the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) agrees any increase of the minimum wage will likely result in at least some job loss.

Last month, Florida also took steps to implement a $15 minimum wage. The bill introduced by Democratic state Rep. Victor Torres and state Sen. Dwight Bullard is likely to face a tough uphill battle though. Both the state House and Senate have a Republican majority. Additionally Florida Gov. Rick Scott, as a Republican, is not expected to support the bill.

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