New York’s minimum wage could soon be tied to the rate of inflation, as Democrats in the state Legislature and Governor Kathy Hochul negotiate changes to the current system. However, lawmakers are also seeking to increase the current wage beyond the current $15 an hour in New York City and $14.20 north of Westchester County, which business organizations have criticized for the negative impact it could have on their bottom line.
Inflation has been a major factor in the debate over the minimum wage, with the cost of essentials such as groceries, fuel, and utilities all rising over the past year. Governor Hochul has defended her proposal for linking the wage to the cost of living, stating that it could have a positive effect on low-income New Yorkers.
However, her proposal has faced pushback from both businesses and progressive advocates, with some calling for a minimum wage of over $20 an hour. State Sen. Jessica Ramos and Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner have supported a measure to increase the wage to $21.25 an hour by 2027, although this was not included in the formal legislative budget proposals last week.
Despite this, Democratic lawmakers have indicated that they want to raise the wage and add the indexing provision as part of a final budget deal. Supporters argue that the change would help more people, but opponents have cited the negative impact on small businesses as a reason to oppose the change.
Ashley Ranslow of the National Federation of Independent Business said that both linking the base wage to inflation and raising it are opposed by the private sector, with 96% of their members opposing an increase in the minimum wage. On the other hand, supporters of the wage hike have highlighted the support from small business owners for an increase.
The proposed changes would come at a time when employers are seeking relief from a surcharge on unemployment insurance that was added to help the state pay off billions of dollars in unemployment debt incurred during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Farmers are also grappling with rising overtime costs mandated by New York, which will be offset with a tax credit, but farmers must still wait for reimbursement.
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