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Debate over minimum wage heats up: What happens next?

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  • Staff Report 

The debate over increasing the minimum wage in New York continues, with advocates and business interests releasing dueling studies this week. Supporters of the proposed increase, backed by state Sen. Jessica Ramos and Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner, argue that raising the minimum wage to $21.25 by 2027 and linking it to inflation would lead to raises for at least 2.9 million New Yorkers, giving them an average yearly raise of $3,300 amid ongoing inflationary price increases.

However, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) conducted their own study, which came to a different conclusion. A wage increase of that size would cost the state about 128,000 jobs over the next 10 years, roughly 1% of the state’s employment. A majority of those jobs, 65%, would be at small businesses, and the group argues that it would cost the state billions of dollars in economic growth.

“As always, the negative impact of these one-size-fits-all, extreme wage hike bills would fall disproportionately on small employers, who are less likely to have the cash reserves or profit margins to plan for and absorb the aggressive increase in labor costs than larger corporate employers,” said NFIB State Director Ashley Ranslow.

Supporters of the wage increase argue that it would not be detrimental to the state’s job growth, pointing to studies that concluded the last wage increase in 2016 did not affect job growth in New York. They also argue that the proposed increase is necessary to help working-class people make ends meet, especially given rising costs of living.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has included her own minimum wage plan in the state budget, which is expected to pass by April 1. Hochul’s plan proposes indexing future wage increases to inflation, but she has not called for a specific target.

As the debate continues, both sides remain firm in their positions. However, the outcome of the state budget vote will ultimately determine the fate of the proposed wage increase, and whether New York’s minimum wage will continue to rise in the coming years.