Next week will be crucial for the movement fighting to raise the minimum wage in the state of New York to $15/hr, as the workgroup who have been evaluating its viability makes their recommendations public.
Hispanic workers who make do with the current $8.75 salary are pinning their hopes on the commission making a favorable pitch to the Department of Labor.
We have heard several testimonies during the public hearings, which began last month. They show that this is not an impulsive request but an urgent necessity. With the current wage it is almost impossible to subsist in New York, as most of the earnings end up in rental payments.
Let’s take a look at the case of Domino’s Pizza delivery man José Juarez, who said that he is being forced to share his bathroom with nine other people in the apartment where he lives. For this Latino worker, however, that is the least of his problems. Because he holds two jobs, his greatest concern is being able to spend enough time with his child. “I leave home at 7:30 a.m., and sometimes return at 1:30 a.m. the next day,” said Suárez in one of the hearings. Even though he has two salaries, he is unable to save any money.
Specifically in New York City, the Comptroller’s office estimates that the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn ‒ where over 450,000 people earn minimum wage ‒ would benefit the most from the raise. The Bronx and Manhattan have 250,000 and 230,000 employees respectively, who would see a noticeable improvement in their quality of life. Staten Island has around 52,800 minimum wage workers.
The potential positive impact of a raise would also be felt by the City, as studies say that people would be able to spend more in rent, from the current $1,000 million to $2,000 million. Food expenditure would also increase between $300 and $600 million.
Moreover, the City will be able to save between $200 and $500 million in food stamps and Medicaid.
In sum, everybody wins. The authorities must take a look at these numbers. We need to follow the example set by other states that have already taken the leap to benefit the working class. At the end of the day, they are one of the pillars of the economy. We’re going for $15.