New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo attacked opponents of his $15 minimum wage proposal Monday by claiming there is “no credible evidence” the policy would be harmful.
Cuomo has relentlessly worked to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour. He announced a proposal Sept. 10 designed to phase in the increase statewide over a few years. After the proposal, he gave numerous speeches and traveled around the state to push it. Cuomo claims there is no evidence disputing his proposal, but the research has been fairly split on the matter.
“Although the data and facts clearly show that we must raise the minimum wage, some contend that raising the wage will result in catastrophe and chaos,” Cuomo wrote in an opinion piece for the Syracuse Media Group “First, there is no credible evidence that increasing the minimum wage will hurt businesses. Rather, the evidence shows that an increase benefits the economy.”
The $15 minimum wage is uncharted territory, making the end result of the policy fairly unpredictable. It could give lower-income individuals the ability to afford more basic necessities, resulting in increased economic activity. The policy also has the potential to actually hurt the poor by forcing businesses to cutback on their workforce to overcome the added cost of labor.
“In fact, New York increased the minimum wage eight times over the past 25 years,” Cuomo continued. “When the minimum wage rises, productivity tends to increase, and increased worker retention saves employers recruitment and training costs. My proposal is gradually phased in before reaching $15 by the end of 2018 in New York City and July 1, 2021 across the rest of the state.”
Even the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has found both positive and negative results when it looked at minimum wage increases in the past. Its research found any increase of the minimum wage will likely result in at least some job loss. The higher the increase, the more impact it will have. The state minimum wage is currently $9.00, making his proposal very dramatic.
“Increased wages translates to increased consumer demand, which leads to higher production and an increase in overall jobs,” Cuomo also noted. “We should focus on the facts, not fear. New Yorkers who are working full time and are struggling to make ends meet, standing outside in the cold waiting for public assistance to feed their families, deserve better. Much better.”
Cuomo has pushed a number of additional policies, indicting that he too is aware of the potential harm the increase could have. His proposal is designed to phase in over a few years to help mitigate economic stress on the state. He has also proposed and implemented a number of tax cuts to help relieve costs for small businesses in the state.
Both sides of the debate have plenty of evidence to support their views. The University of California, Berkeley and the Economic Policy Institute, for instance, have found the policy has a generally positive impact. Nevertheless, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and The Heritage Foundation determined the policy hinders employment opportunities.
The conflicting research has even prompted some minimum wage supporters to decide against the $15 mark. President Barack Obama has been an avid advocate for the $10.10 minimum wage, while Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has argued the federal minimum wage should not exceed $12 an hour. California Gov. Jerry Brown also opposes the policy out of concern it could harm his state economy.
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