Economy

Brace Yourselves: Higher Wages May Be Coming Soon to New York City

Yesterday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced that he will push to raise the city's minimum to $13 by 2016, a significant bump up from the current minimum wage, and also higher than the proposed hike offered last month by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D). 

For millions of workers making the current minimum––$8.75––in one of the country's most expensive cities, the announcement likely comes as a partial relief from the high costs of living there. 

"The current minimum wage proposal simply doesn't do enough to help New York City," de Blasio said during his annual State of the City address Tuesday. "That's why we fight to raise New York City's minimum wage to more than $13 per hour in 2016, while indexing the minimum wage, which would bring us to a projected $15 per hour by 2019."

Indexing the minimum wage sets in place incremental automatic increases that keep pace with the ebb and flow of the cost of living and inflation, an important step "because it means that hardworking New Yorkers won't have to wait on new action from Albany just to keep pace with inflation," the mayor said Tuesday. 

De Blasio's announcement comes on the heels of last month's State of the State address, wherein New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage by the end of next year to $10.50 statewide and $11.50 in New York City up from the current minimum of $8.75.

The proposals, which also included a plan to alleviate student loan debt and reduce small-business taxes, came ahead of the the Governor's annual State of the State address, during which he outlined an initiative package aimed at poverty and income inequality. That package is known as the “2015 Opportunity Agenda.”

A national trend?

Cuomo’s––and now de Blasio's––announcement signals an marked push to include New York in a larger movement, as states like Vermont, Washington, and California inch closer to President Barack Obama’s proposed federal minimum wage increase to $10.10, up from $7.25. In cities like Seattle and San Francisco, laws raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour have already been passed. Chicago will soon have a $13 minimum, and Washington, D.C.'s will increase to $11.50. 

According to a statement from Cuomo’s office last month, “a reasonable minimum wage is a necessity in order to improve the standard of living for workers, encourage fair and more efficient business practices, and ensure that the most vulnerable members of the workforce can contribute to the economy.”

The Governor's proposed goal would be a notable increase for New Yorkers, but many feel Albany could go further still. According to Flavia Cabral, a Bronx mother and member of Fast Food Forward, a worker-advocacy group, Cuomo’s goal is “a step in the right direction, [but] does not go far enough to help me afford rent and clothing and groceries for my two kids every month,” she told the local news site Gothamist. De Blasio's $13 per hour is still less than some other cities, but the index plan will eventually catch the city up. In the mean time, the $13 goal will hopefully translate into partial relief those like Cabral and her ilk.  

Detractors on the other side of the aisle include business groups and Republican lawmakers.

“Raise the minimum wage and you reduce opportunities for people on the lower end of the economic ladder to get their first job,” Ed Cox, the state GOP chairman, told the Wall Street Journal.

Check out ATTN:’s brief on minimum raise increases for more information. For more on the movement to raise the minimum wage, watch and share this video: