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Minimum wage hike: the pros and cons

Posted at: 02/12/2013 5:06 PM
Updated at: 02/14/2013 12:26 PM
By: Ray Levato

News10NBC is looking at another part of the governor's budget that will affect you. Will the cost of raising minimum wage be passed on to you? Will it mean fewer jobs or will it cause some jobs to be lost?

Is raising the minimum wage a good idea? Recent polls show a majority of New Yorkers favor the idea, but small business says it could result in having to either layoff workers or raise prices.

Who would a hike in the minimum wage help? People like Cynthia Lynch who lives at the YWCA because she can't afford rent for an apartment.

News10NBC's Ray Levato said, “What would an extra $1.50 an hour mean?”
Cynthia Lynch said, “That will probably help us with RG&E, busing for people who take the bus. People who have cars, $1.50 more for their gas.”

News10NBC also spoke with two workers who just got a raise so they're now just above the minimum wage.

Joel Deleon said, “It'll mean like $20 more in your pocket. Maybe more than that, right? $7.25 to $8.75, maybe like $30 or $40 more dollars in your pocket. It's just better.”

Jordan Hanley said, “I'm in college full-time so I don't have the money to pay for books and my expenses, my car loan and my gas, so it's hard.”

Tim Mason, Small Business Council, said, “Something's going to have to give based upon that increase of 20%.”

Tim Mason speaks for the Small Business Council of the Rochester Business Alliance. He says it's not that employers don't want their employees to earn more, but that they haven't had time to plan for a significant increase in their labor costs.

Mason said, “Think of your own household. If you found out tomorrow that your expenses were going to go up, something is going to have to give. What could that be? Hiring minimum wage employees. They may have to look at that and not hire any more or certainly cut back on their minimum wage employees.”

The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says in 2011 about 199,000 workers in New York earned the minimum wage or lower.That's about five percent of the total state's hourly workforce.

Levato said, “What about prices? Do businesses pass this along to customers in a price increase?”

Mason said, “In a tough economy, the last thing we want to do is pass this cost along to our consumers. But it's going to have to come from somewhere.”

A group called the Women's National Law Center says raising the minimum wage is good for the economy, but small business says this could take money away they could invest in their businesses and hurt retirees who are trying to supplement their income or young people learning job skills.

The boost in minimum wage would add another $45 to $60 a week based on the hours they work. The last time the federal minimum wage went up was in 2009 to the current $7.25 and hour. New York went along that year as well. That was the last of three steps of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007.