04 June 2013
New York City has long been viewed as one of the fastest-evolving cities in the world, and when it comes to job reform, it may be setting an example that the rest of the nation will soon follow. On March 18, Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders reached an agreement to increase New York’s $7.25 minimum wage to $9 over the next three years. But is this really good news? It may seem so, but there are both positives and negatives to the new law, and it’s certainly being debated. While many are praising the city’s recent decision to increase the minimum wage, concerns have been raised about the length of time it will take for the $1.75 increase to take full effect, as well as how the wages will be paid for. For example, minimum wage workers will have to wait until 2016 to receive $9/hr wages. The minimum wage will increase to $8.00 on December 31, 2013, $8.75 on December 31, 2014, and $9.00 on December 21, 2015. According to the Associated Press, select employers will only be paying 40 cents of the $1.75 difference in wages. Budget language for a proposed tax credit agreement says that companies employing students ages 16 to 19 will receive compensation from taxpayers for the higher wage costs. NYC’s increased minimum wage of $9 is in line with what President Obama has recently proposed in terms of raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9. With this increase, New York City will be joining the 18 other states that currently have minimum wages above the federal level. In other news, city lawmakers voted on May 8th to have businesses provide paid sick days to about 1 million workers who don’t currently have the benefit. New Yorkers and City Council members can safely celebrate that victory, which Council members are hoping resonates nationwide. New York City’s newly passed paid sick leave law sets a precedent for the rest of the country, as New York is the nation’s largest metropolis, making New York the most populated place to approve such a measure. As with any piece of newly passed legislation, New York City’s recent measures are a topic of popular discussion, leaving New Yorkers to debate what it all means. The minimum wage increase has been seen as somewhat of a veiled victory, as its full effect is so far off from reaching fruition, and it will be three years before New Yorkers have the entirety of that extra money in their pocket. On the other hand, the fact that New York City’s employees who earn minimum wage will be making $9 an hour ($1.75 more than they currently make), is excellent progress for the city. In addition, newly mandated sick leave will allow 1 million people to attain a better quality of life. Despite all the room for contention, New York City’s latest actions have shown that job reform is not static and has the potential to act as an example and better the lives of workers all over America.