Following the release of the new consumer price index numbers from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, lawmakers behind the new coalition Raise Up NY are demanding strong action in Albany to raise the minimum wage across the state and adjust it automatically in the future so it doesn’t fall behind again.
With inflation numbers reaching 8.3% in April of this year, the group of workers, small business owners and economic experts who are also affiliated with Raise Up NY are urging immediate action during this current legislative session to ensure that the wage floor doesn’t fall behind again.
The index in the New York-Newark-Jersey City area rose 0.9% in April, with the indexes for food and energy rising 1.5% and 1.2% respectively and the index for food at home rising 1.8% with with all six grocery categories recording higher increases. Among the groceries with higher April prices in the New York area were citrus fruits, eggs, and milk.
“The combination of a stagnant minimum wage and rising costs is putting New York’s underpaid workers, many of whom are Black and brown and have been shoehorned into bad jobs by corporate employers, on the brink of financial ruin,” said Rebecca Dixon, executive director of the National Employment Law Project in a statement released May 11. “In New York City, the minimum wage is now lower than in Denver. Inaction will only lead to more pain and heartache, exacerbating challenges we’ve become all too familiar with: families that can’t afford essential goods and services like housing, health care, food and fuel. It’s past time for a minimum wage that works in a state that claims to be a national leader on workers’ rights.”
The New York City minimum wage has been flat since 2018, and will not exceed $15 an hour in the rest of the state unless there is legislative action. The Consumer Price Index has risen 6.3% over the past year, with 12-month percent increase in the all-items index was the highest since October 1990. Food prices climbed by 8.8 percent. Prices for food at home advanced 10.0 percent—the largest over-the-year increase in 41 years.
“If wages don’t keep pace with inflation, workers are effectively getting a pay cut,” said State Senator Jessica Ramos, Chair of the Senate Labor Committee and sponsor of S3062C, the bill to increase minimum wage and to adjust it in the future to meet inflation rates. The minimum wage in New York City has stalled at $15, and low-wage workers are still catching up. New York has the ability to deliver some real and lasting relief. Indexing our wages to inflation builds some real resilience in our economy, while also ensuring that the widening wealth gap between the very richest among us and those working for minimum wage does not continue to expand at such a drastic rate.”
Other experts weighed in to drive home how serious and dire the economic state could be if New York State does not increase minimum wage to support workers.
“Inflation has been relentless in eroding the purchasing power for New York families,” said James Parrott, Director of Economic and Fiscal Policies, Center for New York City Affairs at The New School. “Since the beginning of last year average hourly earnings for all private sector workers in New York have fallen by 8.3 percent and by 10 percent for a minimum wage worker after adjusting for inflation. It is time for the state to start indexing the minimum wage for the increased cost of living and growth in labor productivity that workers make possible. This will deliver real relief for two million New Yorkers, including over 550,000 parents with children. And since the minimum wage for most New York City workers hasn’t been adjusted in over three years, a catch-up increase is needed to compensate for the rising cost of living over that period and to keep pace with the minimum wage in other large high-cost cities.”
Last updated 5/11/2022 11:01 am