The outlook for minimum wage workers is getting better, as New York legislators have reached a tentative agreement to raise the minimum wage to a one that is slightly more livable.
According to the proposed plan, the New York State minimum wage will increase by approximately 25% over three years. The current minimum wage, instated in 2009, will rise from $7.25 to $8 per hour by 2014, $8.75 per hour by 2015, and $9 per hour by 2016.
Legislators, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, have debated what hourly pay rate would be enough to support minimum wage workers – a part of the workforce that many assume consists of mostly teenagers, but what now largely consists of adults supporting their families. It was agreed that the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour was not keeping up with the rapidly rising cost of living.
“I think we’ve done a tremendous service,” said Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver to reporters after the meeting in Albany.
President Obama has proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $9 in his State of the Union Address, and if the increase is approved by the legislature, New York would be the first state to meet this goal. New York would also have one of the highest minimum wages in the nation.
The Senate is also actively pursuing a higher federal minimum wage, and Democrats are looking at surpassing Obama’s goal. One such bill, co-sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, seeks to raise the wage in three increments of 95 cents to $10.10 in three years.
Minimum wage workers have long been dissatisfied with their pay. Back in December, hundreds of workers from fast food chains in New York City went on strike, drawing attention to the low median pay for food service and food preparation workers of $8.90 per hour.