Officials in New York want to raise the minimum wage:
The State Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg recently announced that they wanted to raise the state’s minimum wage to $8.50 an hour, or roughly $17,000 a year. It would be a 17 percent increase, and the first since the previous federal increase, three years ago. “People who work full time should not be poor,” Mr. Silver said, arguing that the current minimum wage was too low for survival.
There is little doubt about what this measure will do. It will kill jobs, and it will raise operating costs, which will be passed onto consumers. That will then raise the threshold of what constitutes a living wage, which will lead to renewed calls to raise the minimum wage. Meanwhile, as low-wage jobs disappear, more and more people will come to rely on public assistance, and fewer immigrants will take those crucial first steps on the jobs ladder. New York City will become ever more dependent on Wall Street, whose outsize fees and salaries will be the only possible source of revenue to underwrite an increasingly creaky and fragile economy.
Via Meadia has a suggestion: The city, and the state, could get a lot more done if it spent time thinking about how to cut the costs that the poor have to pay to survive, and about how to facilitate job growth by cutting regulatory red tape. (Consider Texas, where workers making the minimum wage—roughly $14,500 per year—live as well as New Yorkers making double that.)
True, if politicians took our suggestion, they wouldn’t be able to bask in the warm glow that comes from raising the minimum wage. But they would put the state on a more sustainable footing and do a lot more for the poor.