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With Nearly 1.8 Million New Yorkers Earning Minimum Wage or Just Above, Gillibrand Announces New Push to Increase Federal Minimum Wage

Press Release

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

With nearly 1.8 million New Yorkers earning the minimum wage or just above this rate -- roughly 20 percent of all workers across the state -- U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced a new effort to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 over the next three years, with future increases indexed to the rate of inflation. Senator Gillibrand is pushing to pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, legislation she is an original co-sponsor of that would boost the incomes of an estimated 1.8 million New York workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute, and generate an estimated $3.2 billion in wage increases for New York workers, sparking new consumer spending at New York businesses.

"It is simply unacceptable to have so many hard working New Yorkers putting in full-time hours to provide for their families and yet still living below the poverty line," Senator Gillibrand said. "By raising the minimum wage and rewarding hard work, not only can more families raise themselves into the middle class, but we can grow the economy. Raising the minimum wage is a common sense way to grow our economy, support job creation, and rebuild America's middle class."

*In New York City, there were an average of nearly 3.6 million workers, over 780,000 of which would benefit from this increase in minimum wage, benefitting approximately 21 percent of workers.

*In Western New York, there were an average of nearly 700,000 workers, over 140,000 of which would benefit from this increase in minimum wage, benefitting approximately 21 percent of workers.

*In the Rochester Finger Lakes Region, there were an average of nearly 600,000 workers, nearly 120,000 of which would benefit from this increase in minimum wage, benefitting approximately 20 percent of workers.

*In Central New York, there were an average of over 500,000 workers, over 100,000 of which would benefit from this increase in minimum wage, benefitting approximately 20 percent of workers.

*In the Southern Tier, there were on average nearly 240,000 workers, nearly 55,000 of which would benefit from this increase in minimum wage, benefitting approximately 23 percent of workers.

*In the Capital Region, there were on average over 560,000 workers, over 110,000 of which would benefit from this increase in minimum wage, benefitting approximately 20 percent of workers.

*In the North Country, there were on average over 170,000 workers, nearly 38,000 of which would benefit from this increase in minimum wage, benefitting approximately 22 percent of workers.

*In the Hudson Valley, there were on average over 1 million workers, nearly 200,000 of which would benefit from this increase in minimum wage, benefitting approximately 18 percent of workers.

*On Long Island, there were on average nearly 1.4 million workers, over 240,000 of which would benefit from this increase in minimum wage, benefitting approximately 18 percent of workers.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 in three 95-cent increments over a three-year period. To keep up with the rising cost of living, the wage would be indexed to inflation.

The purchasing power of the minimum wage is currently at a historic low, with the last increase in the federal minimum wage taking place in July 2009. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation, it would be estimated at more than $10.50 an hour today. The legislation would also raise the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in more than 20 years, raising it to a level that is 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.

A majority of the lowest wage earners in New York who would benefit from an increase, or about 90 percent, are adult workers, not teenagers in after-school and seasonal jobs. 54 percent of low-wage New Yorkers who would see increased wages under this proposal are women, many with children, and about half are minorities.

Someone working full-time at minimum wage earns $290 a week, or just $15,080 yearly without any time off. This annual salary for a minimum wage earning working poor family of three is $3,000 below the poverty level on an annual basis, making it difficult to make ends meet and increasing dependency on government assistance programs. The Fair Minimum Wage Act will boost the minimum wage to $21,000, lifting those working poor families above the poverty line.

Nationwide, increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could increase America's GDP by approximately $33 billion over the course of three years as workers spend their higher earnings at local businesses. That injection of new economic activity would generate up to 140,000 new jobs in the same time span, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 has broad support across the business community, including the Main Street Alliance, U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce, Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, Business for Shared Prosperity, American Sustainable Business Council, and employers like Costco, along with New York-based organizations, including the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, Eileen Fisher, ABC Home and BALCONY.


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