A better way to raise the wage

Alex Edelman/CNP/Zuma Press/Tribune News Service

The following editorial appears in the New York Daily News on July 19:

NEW YORK (Tribune News Service) — The federal minimum wage is abominably low: $7.25 an hour, and an egregious $2.13 for tipped workers. Its earning power has eroded since its last hike in 2009.

Rather than simply right that wrong, as Republicans in Washington have shamefully failed to do, Democrats in the House of Representatives [on July 18] made a strong statement — $15 nationwide by 2025 — that risks weakening job markets in places that can ill-afford the setback.

Here in New York City, where the cost of living is high and so are median incomes, the minimum wage is already $15 — except for small businesses, which catch up at year’s end. It’ll get to that level on Long Island and in Westchester by 2021, and around the rest of the state at a later date.

Well and good, as are hikes putting wages on track to $15 in six other states and the District of Columbia, where about a third of American workers reside.

But just as $150,000 in Manhattan isn’t $150,000 in Montana or Alabama or Arkansas, $15 isn’t equivalent here and there. Costs of living and median incomes vary radically.

Fifteen dollars an hour is approaching the median hourly wage in some parts of the country. In Puerto Rico, an outlier, it is higher than the current median wage.

An educated guess by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released this week projects that setting a uniform $15 minimum would increase the take-home pay of about 17 million people, lift 1.3 million out of poverty — and trigger job losses of 1.3 million people (up to 3.7 million, in fact).

Why not set minimums that are sensitive to regional economies, then index those wage levels to inflation, just as different parts of New York state are on different tracks?

Because, we assume, that doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker.

Visit New York Daily News at www.nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency. © 2019 New York Daily News.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(2) comments

Fwfigher

Wages have to be driven by the economy not by legislatures.

Airball55

Correct FW. I was going to read the article seriously until I finished the first paragraph and saw it was just another political hit piece. Sigh....

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