New York State could be the first state to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour thanks to intensive lobbying by state governor Andrew Cuomo. The state is set to implement gradual increases in the minimum wage of its employees and if everything is approved, the state will raise the bar for other states in the U.S. to treat their workers with far greater dignity with regard to compensation.
On Thursday, Cuomo announced before a Manhattan crowd full of union workers that he would be overseeing the gradual increment of minimum wage for fast food workers to $15 an hour by 2021. The governor of the U.S.’s third largest state also said he would work endlessly to ensure the target was achieved across all industries in New York.
Cuomo said, “Every working man and woman in the state of New York deserves $15 an hour. We’re not going to stop until we get it done.”
Vice President Joe Biden, who was in attendance, said Cuomo’s move would have far reaching effects in the country’s wage policy going forward. He said, “You’re going to make every single governor in every single state in America look at themselves. It’s going to have a profound impact.”
Though some analysts predict the move may end up hurting the state’s economy by taking away control from the market forces of demand and supply, others have been more empathetic to the idea, even drawing parallels between it and what Henry Ford did in the early 20th century.
Ford, in 1914, famously raised the wages of his workers to $5 a day while reducing their daily work hours to 8 hours a day, from 9 hours. Analysts then predicted his move would “get riddance to Henry Ford of his burdensome millions” and “may return to plague him and the industry he represents, as well as organized society.”
However, the exact opposite was achieved: higher productivity and higher revenues.
In 1914, $5 had the same buying power as $1119.32 today, approximately $15 an hour for an 8 hour working day.
Already, many cities across the country are overseeing minimum wage increases. Joining the bandwagon of increased minimum wages, Los Angeles, Seattle, California and San Francisco also have approved phased increases in their minimum wage to eventually get to $31200 a year ($15 an hour).
President Barack Obama’s administration has maintained it seeks to raise minimum wage to $12 an hour. Unions are pushing for $15. Through the combined efforts of union workers, policy makers and state officials, low wage workers in the U.S. will get an opportunity to earn a decent income from their work.