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Cuomo’s $15 Minimum Wage Proposal Is Stronger Than Ever, But Critics Still Argue It Only Benefits NYC

Money Debt Worries, Attractive Young Woman Holding Credit CardsGov. Cuomo’s $15 minimum wage hike seems more likely than ever, but is it actually going to help the entire state of New York — or just New York City?

According to a recent report from PressConnects, Gov. Cuomo left Albany in June having been defeated by Senate Republicans who blocked his initiative to raise the state’s minimum wage from $8.75/hour to $10.50/hour ($11.50/hour in NYC). But that hasn’t stopped Cuomo: just last Friday, he told reporters that although his last proposal failed, he still intends to push the state toward a $15 minimum wage in the near future.

While Cuomo’s proposal has received plenty of criticism from conservatives and business owners, many of his supporters state that a higher minimum wage is necessary, considering that many New York State residents rely on income brought in through a minimum wage job.

In New York City, for example, the New York Daily News recently reported that it’s “officially impossible to afford NYC rents on the minimum wage.” According to data from the real estate website StreetEasy, the Daily News said, a New York City resident would have to make at least $38.80 per hour, which is four times the current minimum wage of $8.75, in order to meet the city’s median rental rate of $2,690 per month.

For the average American worker, rent is considered to be affordable if it equals no more than 40% of the person’s income — and for many parts of New York State, it is possible to find an apartment with affordable rent.

But it’s also worth noting that when employees are paid by the hour, rather than on an annual salary, missing just a few days of work due to an illness or for a personal reason can make it impossible to pay rent. The average American worker in 2013, for example, missed eight days of work that year because of injuries sustained on the job.

But will the long-term effects of a higher minimum wage actually benefit the state, or is Cuomo focusing too much on short-term effects?

The Buffalo News recently called Cuomo’s plan “a big mistake,” and former Rochester Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy (now CEO of the Rochester Business Alliance) echoed those concerns. A higher minimum wage, Duffy said, would force businesses to cut their funding for workers’ comp claims and unemployment insurance savings. While NYC residents would benefit from a pay bump, businesses throughout the rest of the state would end up cutting jobs rather than creating them.

So is Cuomo’s proposal something that would more likely help or hurt Rochester’s economy and business development? Let us know what you think; this is an issue that every New York resident has the right to discuss.