Hochul wants to link minimum wage to rate of inflation

NEW YORK (PIX11) — In her State of the State address, Gov. Kathy Hochul floated the idea of indexing wages to match the rising cost of inflation. Advocates want to see an overall increase in the minimum wage and then index it to match inflation.

State Sen. Jessica Ramos, who chairs the legislature’s Labor Committee, is the sponsor of the “Raise the Wage bill” that would link the minimum wage to the rate of inflation. It would allow low-income workers to afford paying rent and buying food as the cost of living keeps rising. The Queens Democrat asserts, “The reality is New Yorkers are having a really difficult time living in New York.”

Hochul unveiled the idea as a change that could trigger automatic increases to the wage floor that has been stagnant in recent years. She sees her proposal as a matter of “fairness and social justice.”

“There is only one way we can help working families at this moment,” Ramos said. “It’s not enough to give them what they need to buy an extra dozen eggs. That’s not an issue. The issue is paying the rent, the issue is trying to provide for their children. The reality is that New Yorkers are having a really difficult time living in New York.”

Currently the minimum wage in the state ranges from $14.20 to $15 an hour. Advocates are pushing for a minimum wage of $21.25 by the year 2027 and then to index it to inflation. Assembly minority leader Will Barclay said he’s onboard, but things raising the wage could be too costly for businesses.

“Maybe an employer could handle and increase in the minimum wage, but ultimately that can’t afford to up the wages throughout the whole employee scale. We’ll see, I think it’s problematic,” Barclay said.

Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of Partnership For New York City, which represents the business community, thinks the proposal could work, but she has concerns.

“For the corporate community we don’t have an issue because most of their jobs are not minimum wage. The concern about having the minimum wage is the impact it will have on the small businesses low-margin employer,” Wylde said.

As the debate continues, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie believes more conversations about minimum wages are needed.

“I’d say the differences really we’re at the starting point. Question is whether you just index it currently to inflation or do you go up a number, then index it,” Heastie said.

Wylde agrees that the proposal needs more discussion.