Despite an unemployment rate of ten percent and about one-third of small businesses already shuttered as a result of his coronavirus lockdowns, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is apparently unsatisfied in his efforts in the state. So he’s decided to go ahead with a planned minimum wage hike.
That’s OK. All business people are rich, aren’t they?
The New York Department of Labor announced Wednesday that it will move forward with plans to hike the state’s minimum wage on December 31. Under the state’s phased-in minimum wage increase that started in 2016, businesses in New York City are already required to pay workers a minimum of $15 per hour. On December 31, the minimum wage in Long Island and Westchester County will increase by $1 to $14 per hour, and the minimum wage across the rest of the state will jump from $11.80 to $12.50 per hour.
Cuomo’s Labor Department considered canceling or postponing the increase — especially after the governor reimposed many lockdown orders and promised more in the future. After all, “minimum wage” is sort of irrelevant when no one is getting paid any wages at all.
But the fight for social justice and economic equality must go on — even if it kills off every business in the state.
Greg Biryla, New York director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle that the Cuomo administration’s reasoning for approving the minimum wage hike “defies logic.” Even with assistance from the state and federal governments, 39 percent of NFIB members say they could be out of business in the next year.
Doesn’t Cuomo care about what he’s doing to these small businesses? The answer is no.
The infuriating thing is that the state is well aware of the additional burden it is creating–the Cuomo administration just doesn’t seem to care. A report commissioned by the labor department to review the potential costs of hiking the state’s minimum wage in the middle of a pandemic and economic crisis notes that “COVID-19 has dramatically changed the economic landscape, casting doubt on whether the capacity to absorb minimum wage increases without adverse impact can continue over the near-term.”
Bureaucratic understatement can be so maddening.
But the analysts add that “Anecdotally, our research has found examples of job openings upstate offering wages well above $12.50,” and conclude that “these examples could be interpreted as evidence that upstate businesses are able to offer the wages necessary to attract the workers they need.”
“Anecdotally” means they don’t have any hard data or evidence of any kind. I guess the bureaucrats’ Auntie Midge told them about how Hank’s Hardware Store in Schenectady was paying $13.00 an hour. She heard it from Uncle Bob, so it’s got to be true.
Cuomo is determined to ignore reality. The consequences of this idiocy will be felt by thousands of small businesses that might be willing to reopen their doors when the pandemic passes, but will be unable to afford the new wages until they get back on their feet. Cuomo has condemned these businesses to death.