It’s been four years since NYC decided to follow the lead of California and make $15 an hour the minimum wage in the city. Given the exorbitant rents, multi-levels of taxes, and sky-high goods and services, this figure isn’t surprising at all. However, $15 an hour doesn’t stay buying the same thing year after year, and in just four short years, it now gets you substantially less than it did before they hiked the rates.
According to a report from the New York Times on November 14th, that same $15 now buys just $13 worth of goods and services. While that might not seem like a steep drop, it is a significant percentage, and it only gets worse when you increase the percentage to what people get paid, and what they are paying for things like rent. With the city’s minimum wage falling under the control of the state’s legislative branch, any attempts in justifying the tying or adjusting the minimum wage to inflation have been stonewalled by business interests throughout the state.
Paul K. Sonn, state policy program director at the National Employment Law Project claims “The $15 minimum wage was a bold, significant step in getting closer to a living wage.” He also recognizes that this minimum wage will now “fall far, far behind,” as inflation continues to rise. Other people like Democratic State Sen. Jessica Ramos of District 13 see this as the minimum wage once again falling out with what it costs to live, and now they are leaving New Yorkers behind.
As it sits now, the federal minimum wage is $7.25, and efforts to raise it to $15 would result in 750,000 fewer jobs per week across the country and would take 300,000 people out of poverty according to Congressional Budget Office projections. A study from the Heritage Foundation shows that this would effectively send small business prices skyrocketing as they could not afford to shoulder these costs. Meanwhile, large corporations would raise prices significantly less due to global and national competition.
Speaking with the NYT, a spokesman for Democratic Mayor Eric Adams said, “We look forward to working with our colleagues in Albany this legislative session to seriously consider raising the minimum wage while also recognizing that still-struggling small businesses may need financial help if they’ll be asked to pay workers more.”
This standard liberal lip service is of little comfort to the small businesses that dot NYC and the region. These companies often give kids in high school their first opportunities to work, provide people with a criminal record a chance at turning their lives around, and serve as the cornerstone of their communities. By only “recognizing” the struggles this hike will present, they aren’t actually taking any action.
Currently, in the New York, Newark, and Jersey City area the price of food has risen by 8.6% on an annual basis, and groceries are also up 10.4% per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, the cost of shelter annually is up 4.1% as of October, with 1.1% of that increase coming just since September.
The people of NYC deserve more. They deserve a leader who will help fix the city. Not just as a mayor, but also to represent them in Albany as well as DC. Unfortunately, the city keeps pressing forward with the Democratic message, and they keep getting the same tired results. If no change is desired, then the people of NYC have nothing to complain about.
Granted, many Americans would scoff at earning six figures just to come home to a rented 4-bedroom tiny apartment with three roommates, and still barely making ends meet. God only knows how anyone makes it at $15 an hour.