By ANDREW FISHER
New York, along with 23 other states, holds the state minimum wage rate at the federal minimum wage level of $7.25. A recent survey of New York State voters shows great support for the state to raise the minimum wage. Such an increase would have an affect on all state residents, including employees and employers.
“A slight minimum wage increase isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When working you want a decent minimum wage. That is the bottom line, but you need to offer up a solution such as a possible increase in social security,” Bill Prescott ’14 said.
The survey was comprised of 1,597 New York State voters. Of all the voters polled, 29 percent were in favor of the $8.50 minimum wage per hour. Six percent would approve a raise, but not as high as the $1.25 increase. Forty-one percent support a raise higher than $8.50, while twenty percent oppose any such increase.
Brittany Luby ’14 “My idea of minimum wage depends on where you are living. Instead of raising minimum wage, maybe more benefits should be offered, such as a meal plan, a travel stipend or bonuses depending on where you work.
This raise would not be unprecedented. Many other states across the United States have already withdrawn from the federal minimum wage. The highest current minimum wage rate is Washington, at $9.04, which was enacted on the 1st of this year. There are only two states that are below the federal minimum wage – Georgia and Wyoming, at $5.15.
The state minimum wage rate guidelines are created by legislation within the individual states. In New York, the minimum wage was established in 1963, at $1.00 an hour. According to the United States Department of Labor the most recent change in the minimum wage in New York was in 2009 when it went from $7.15 to $7.25 an hour.
“Minimum wage is a prime example of good intention, but is overall a bad idea. Employers should be able to offer jobs at whatever price they chose. There have been a lot of studies that prove that minimum wage hurts those that it is meant to benefit the most,” PJ Massey ’12.
The New York survey also found that 49 percent of voters believe that small businesses would not reduce the number of people they hire if the minimum wage increased. This split between the voters could be a result of the added stress of a minimum wage increase on small businesses. An increase of the minimum wage by $1.25 an hour would create an extra $50 expense for the forty-hour workweek per employee for many small businesses.
Christine Fisher, owner of a small restaurant in Ogdensburg, said, “For some businesses that rely heavily on unskilled labor for 40-hour workweeks, I can see where it could pose a challenge for them. The increase in wages for the workers has to be supplemented somewhere because they create added expenses depending on how many people the business employs,“She said, “The worst scenario that can come into play is that the business cannot afford the increase and has to decrease the amount of people they employ causing people to lose their jobs.”
Quinnipiac University, in Connecticut, conducted a recent survey from March 28th through April 2nd. The results showed 78 percent of voters were in favor of raising the minimum wage with no specific target rate offered in the question. Among those who supported the increase, 37 percent supported an increase to $8.50 an hour.
“Increasing minimum wage imposes a lot of costs to the university that could be used somewhere else and will not substantially change the lives of those who receive it. Therefore, I think that it is unnecessary,” Vasileios Prassas ’14.