In a push to help more hardworking Capital Region families and give a boost to our economy, Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced the Assembly passed legislation that would increase the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour in January 2014 (A.38-A). The bill would also index the minimum wage to inflation beginning in 2015 reflecting annual changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and set wages for food service workers who receive tips to $6.21 per hour.
Increasing the minimum wage is long overdue, Assemblymember Steck said. This measure provides a much-needed answer to the resounding call from Capital Region families who all agree that full-time minimum-wage workers shouldnt be forced to live in poverty any longer.
More than 80 percent of New Yorkers polled in January support efforts to raise the minimum wage.i The change would directly benefit 925,000 New Yorkers currently earning below $9.00 an hour over 10 percent of the states employed population. Corporate profits of low-wage employers are experiencing record growth,ii making it a good time to raise the minimum wage, Assemblymember Steck added.
As a retail business, it would be encouraging to finally see the minimum wage increase, as it will help many businesses in our community grow and help get more people into our local stores, Michael Ryan, owner of Ryan's Produce, a 100 year-old small business in Colonie, NY said. Now more than ever, our economy could use a boost and I know a hike in the minimum wage will do just that. I applaud Assemblymember Steck and the Assembly for their action on this issue.
Currently, the neighboring states of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont have higher minimum wages than New York State, as do 16 other states and the District of Columbia. Ten other states have already passed legislation indexing the minimum wage to inflation. New Yorks minimum wage has increased just 10 cents per hour in the last six years and was last raised when the federal minimum wage increased from $7.15 to $7.25 an hour in 2009.
From 2002 to 2012, the percent increase in CPI ranged from 1.6 percent to 3.8 percent annually. Over that time, gasoline prices rose 169 percent; education 72 percent; household energy costs 49 percent; medical care 45 percent; groceries 32 percent; and clothing 2 percent.
By indexing the minimum wage to inflation, we not only help increase the quality of life for hardworking families starting next year, but for years to come helping them earn a fair paycheck in the future, Assemblymember Steck said.