New York State's current minimum wage was last increased in July 2009, bringing it up to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The proposed increase in the state minimum wage to $8.50 an hour would put the wages of a full-time minimum wage worker at 95% of the 3-person federal poverty line.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have minimum wage levels above $7.25 according to a recent report by the Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI). According to the report, 880,100 people or 10.1% of New York state residents earn less than $8.50 per hour, of which 55% are female and 84% are age 20 and older. This belies the claim that only teenagers are paid minimum wage. They work primarily in the retail and food service industries in service and sales occupations.
Last year, the Assembly passed legisation introduced by Speaker Sheldon Silver to raise the minimum wage but Leader Skelos refused to consider the legisation in the Senate.
In both his State of the State address and budget proposal for this year, Gov. Cuomo included an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.75 effective July 1, 2013. The legislature is currently considering an increase in the minimum wage higher than the Governor's proposal (A00038A/S01835A).
On March 5, 2013, the state Assembly passed a bill raising the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour from it's current $7.25. The measure passed the Assembly 102-44 and now proceeds to the state Senate to approval.
Judaism teaches us that poverty is destructive to human dignity, and that helping people in need is a matter of fundamental principle, not an act of charity. The Reform Jewish Movement has long been a voice for social and economic justice and as early as 1965 advocated at the federal level for living wages. Reform Jewish Voice of New York State, since it’s founding in 2002, has supported an increase in the minimum wage.
Urge the state Senate to raise the minimum wage. Send an e-mail to your state Senator by entering your zip code below. For more information, please contact Program Associate Molly Benoit at 202.387.2800.