A bill in the New York State Legislature would increase the minimum wage to over $20 by 2026.
The Raise the Wage Act would increase New York’s $15 per hour minimum wage over the next three years and index each year after to match inflation.
Data from the Economic Policy Institute finds if this bill is approved, it would increase wages for about 3 million workers across the state by more than $3,000.
Alissa Barron-Menza, vice president of the group Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, described how raising the minimum wage could reduce small business employee turnover.
“When we raise the minimum wage,” said Barron-Menza, “that pays off for businesses in lower turnover, reduced hiring and training costs, fewer errors, and better productivity as workers can afford to stick around longer and get to know your business better. And, ultimately better customer service which is what helps keep customers coming back.”
Some opponents feel this might encourage people to remain on minimum wage. However, more than 200 New York businesses and business organizations supported the bill by signing on to the New York Business for a Fair Minimum Wage statement.
Currently, the Raise the Wage Act is in committee.
Johanna Dominguez owns Put a Plant On It, a plant store in Buffalo. She’s one of numerous small business owners in support of raising the minimum wage.
While the minimum wage in Buffalo isn’t the same as New York City and Long Island, Dominguez said a minimum-wage increase can help keep employees satisfied with their jobs.
“I find that, both as a consumer but also as a small-business owner,” said Dominguez, “when there’s employee retention, and employees are greeting customers in a friendly and happy manner and not like in a dissociative ‘I hate my job’ manner that the customers end up coming back a lot more frequently.”
Although New York’s minimum wage has been at or near $15 since 2019, labor advocates and legislators feel it needs to catch up with current inflation.
A report from the National Employment Law Project finds continuous stagnation of New York’s minimum wage could erase the benefits it created.
Edwin is a reporter and producer in North Tonawanda, New York. He’s previously reported for the Niagara Gazette and the Ithaca Times. Edwin got an early start in radio interning for WBFO-88.7FM, NPR’s Buffalo affiliate. In 2018, he graduated from SUNY Buffalo State College with a B.A. in Journalism, and in 2022, graduated from Syracuse University with an M.S. in Communications.