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Fast food workers and retail employees everywhere — rejoice! Democrats in Albany, led by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, will today propose a raise in the New York state minimum wage, from $7.25 an hour to $8.50. The proposal will also include a provision mandating automatic increases in the future based on inflation. The last time the state assembly voted to raise the minimum wage was eight years ago, so this is perhaps a bit overdue.
As wonderful as this is, it’s still currently just a proposal, one likely to face strong resistance from state Republicans. They are likely to object to the bill for business reasons, arguing that a minimum wage hike would hinder job growth in this time of economic uncertainty. Business advocacy organizations are already flexing their PR muscles and releasing statements in opposition of the move.
However, Mayor Bloomberg used his State of the City address earlier this month to call for an increase in the minimum wage, despite usually being a strong supporter of state Republicans. Bloomberg later told the Times through an aide that we cannot reasonably expect people to live on $15,000 a year. Perhaps this unlikely alliance between Bloomberg and Silver will help the bill pass.
New York is not the only state to have come to the aid of its lowest-earning inhabitants in recent months. Similar measures are being proposed in eight other states, including Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, and Delaware recently passed a bill that would gradually raise the minimum wage to $8.25 by January 2014.
If this bill eventually passes, it will give New York one of the highest minimum wage rates in the country, second only to Oregon ($8.80/hour) and Washington ($9.04/hour).