the minimum wage. In addition, the North Country region has, on average, more
than 170,000 workers, nearly 38,000 of which would benefit from this increase in
minimum wage, representing-about 22 percent of workers.
The proposal would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 in three 95-cent increments over a three-year period. The legislation would stipulate indexing the wage to inflation in order to keep up with the rising cost of living.
The purchasing power of the minimum wage is currently at a historic low, Gillibrand said, with the last increase in the federal wage in July 2009. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation, it would be estimated at more than $10.50 an hour today.
The legislation would also raise the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in more than 20 years, raising it to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.
Adult workers make up a majority, or about 90 percent, of the lowest wage earners in New York who would benefit from an increase, as opposed to teenagers in after-school and seasonal jobs, according to Gillibrand's office. Additionally, 54 percent of low wage New Yorkers who would see increased wages under this proposal are women, including many with children, and about half of whom are minorities, the Democrat said.
"Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 [an hour] would benefit close to 17 million women in America - 17 million women catching up in the economy almost overnight. Millions of families immediately closer to stable ground," Gillibrand said.
Support and opposition
The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 has "broad" support across the business community, Gillibrand's office contends. Supporting organizations include The Main Street Alliance, U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce, Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, Business for Shared Prosperity, American Sustainable Business Council, and employers like Costco, along with New York-based organizations, including the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce and the New York City-based Business and Labor Coalition of New York (BALCONY).
Other organizations have expressed opposition to the increase in the minimum wage.
The newly approved state budget adds to the cost of doing business by extending assessments on electric, natural gas and steam energy (a total of $1.5 billion), and by increasing the minimum wage, a measure whose impact will be felt by many businesses, with total cost estimates as high as $2 billion per year, Heather Briccetti, president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc., said in a statement issued March 29.
"Though the budget includes a minimum-wage tax credit for students that mitigates the adverse impact on employers, The Business Council would have preferred a straightforward training wage. And, while the final agreement on both of these measures is an improvement over the original proposals, they are not consistent with a strategy to promote economic growth and the creation of good-paying jobs." Briccetti said.
In a statement released March 12, the directors of two business-advocacy groups expressed concern over the potential for a higher minimum wage.
Michael Durant, New York state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, and Brian Sampson, director of Unshackle Upstate, said they believed that such an increase would have "a significant negative impact on small business."
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