Testimony: The Establishment of a New York City Retirement Security Board

June 23, 2015. James Parrott testified at a New York City Council Committee on Civil Service and Labor on the establishment of a New York City Retirement Security Board. The case for a retirement security fund and program for private-sector workers can be summed up as follows: New York City’s population is aging, many private sector workers do not have employer-provided retirement coverage, and our tax system rewards those who have employer-provided retirement coverage but does relatively little to help those who don’t have such coverage. Since most of those without employer-provided retirement security tend to be from low- and moderate-income households and disproportionately persons of color, our existing and troubling income disparities are further intensified by retirement security disparities.

Addressing the Unintended Consequences of the Property Tax Cap

June 10, 2015. In 2011 New York established a property tax cap for school districts, counties and municipalities. New York should proceed cautiously before making the cap permanent in order to gather more information on the impact of the cap. Increasing state funding of services like education, healthcare or providing targeted property tax relief such as a circuit breaker credit would be more effective and efficient ways to address high property taxes. But short of eliminating the cap, here are some ways to mitigate some pressing problems with the cap as currently designed.

  • The cap should allow at least 2 percent growth in the base property tax levy and more if inflation increases in the future.
  • The cap should be adjusted for costs related to increased enrollment in schools by including a student growth index that is similar to the tax base growth factor.
  • New York should allow more carryover of unused space under the cap and allow schools and localities to “bank” any carryover for future use.
  • The cap should be adjusted to allow localities to raise the revenue needed to address the effects of natural disasters like floods and storms.
  • The current cap override provisions should be changed to allow for a simple majority override as most states with limits do.
  • The override procedure should be modified so that the fallback in the case of disapproval is not a levy freeze for school districts. Voters could choose between a school basic budget based on a cap-compliant increase in the levy and one with a larger increase.
  • The cap should exclude the capital improvement expenditures of local governments and school district costs for improvements to BOCES facilities.

For more details on these proposals see the full report (PDF).

PDF of this Summary

Comments Provided to the New York Fast Food Wage Board

June 1, 2015. FPI played an important role in the efforts to convince the New York Fast Food Wage Board in June and July 2015 to recommend a $15 wage floor for 136,000 workers in large fast-food chains. FPI materials include the following:

Testimony at the Buffalo hearing of the Fast Food Wage Board, June 5, 2015

Supplemental comments to the Fast Food Wage Board, June 26, 2015

Op-ed, “Boosting the Wages of Fast-Food Workers Will Help the Economy,” in the July 20, 2015 Albany Times Union

Table showing faster growth in fast-food employment in all parts of New York State (Upstate, Downstate suburbs, New York City) than at the national level, 2007-2014

Testimony on Increasing the Minimum Wage in the Fast-Food Industry

June 5, 2015. James Parrott presented testimony to the New York State Department of Labor Wage Board hearing on increasing the minimum wage in the fast-food industry.

Fast-food is a highly profitable and fast-growing industry. Fast-food employment has risen across New York, adding significantly to the growing problem of low-wages that are far from adequate in allowing a worker to meet basic family budget needs. A significant portion of fast-food workers are trying to raise families, but more than two out of every five workers in this industry live in or near poverty. Not surprisingly, 60 percent of New York’s fast-food workers rely on one or more forms of public benefits to supplement their meager fast-food earnings. As a result of this cost-shifting, taxpayers shoulder over $900 million in public costs that essentially amounts to a subsidy to fast-food’s low-wage business model.

In light of these facts, it would be sound public policy for New York State to phase in a $15 an hour minimum wage for the fast-food industry. Considerable economically sound research supports the conclusion that the industry can accommodate such an increase. A higher wage floor would generate significant cost savings due to reduced turnover and there is room for modest price increases to ease the adjustment without jeopardizing overall employment levels or profitability.[1] Moreover, a $15 fast-food wage floor would boost consumer spending and reduce poverty, and would have positive overall economic consequences throughout New York State.

PDF of Testimony

[1] See, e.g., Robert Pollin and Jeannette Wicks-Lim, A $15 U.S. Minimum Wage: How the Fast-Food Industry Could Adjust Without Shedding Jobs, University of Massachusetts Political Economy Research Institute, January 2015.

New Americans on Long Island: A Vital Fifth of the Economy

June 2, 2015. There are 526,000 immigrants living on Long Island, making up 18 percent of the region’s population and 20 percent of the economic output of Long Islanders, according to a study released today by the Fiscal Policy Institute, New Americans on Long Island: A Vital Fifth of the Economy.

Half of immigrants overall (51 percent) work in white-collar jobs, the study found, and the large majority (61 percent) live in families earning over $80,000 a year. Immigrants represent significant numbers of the people in more highly paid jobs such as professionals (23 percent), technicians (24 percent), and registered nurses pharmacists and health therapists (23 percent), as well as significant numbers in less well-paid jobs such as construction laborers (32 percent), food preparation services workers (33 percent), and sales clerks and cashiers (21 percent).

The report also includes tabulations of a Migration Policy Institute analysis estimating the number of unauthorized immigrants on Long Island to be 98,000—48,000 in Nassau and 50,000 in Suffolk. The analysis shows that a quarter of unauthorized immigrants work in construction and the other three quarters work in jobs from food services to retail to child care and more.

This report updates our 2011 report, New Americans on Long Island: A Vital Sixth of the Economy.

Click here for the full report, and here for the press release.

Property Tax Relief for Low- and Middle-Income Property New Yorkers Must Remain a Priority

May 27, 2015. This report details the stark differences between the circuit breaker relief proposals advanced by the Governor and Assembly versus the flawed STAR rebate plan the Senate proposed. The report shows that both programs would provide some property tax relief but the circuit breaker credits are superior to STAR rebates in many ways. For example:

  • Circuit breakers would address a serious shortcoming of the property tax—that payments are not linked to the taxpayers’ ability to pay. STAR rebates are the same regardless of income and home value.
  • STAR rebates would apply only to homeowners. A circuit breaker would also help renters, recognizing that they pay the landlord’s property taxes indirectly through rent payments. More low-income New Yorkers rent than own their homes and renters would not be eligible.
  • Because it is pegged to income, the circuit breaker would provide meaningful property tax relief to those homeowners and renters who need it most. The STAR rebate, in contrast, would provide tax cuts to more homeowners but they would be considerably smaller.

PDF of Full Report

PDF of Press Release

Media Coverage of Immigrant Main Street Businesses Report

Media coverage of our report on immigrant-owned Main Street businesses has been hard to keep up with.

Below is a listing of what we’ve been able to track so far.


The Wall Street Journal

Immigrant Entrepreneurs Prosper on Main Street



In the U.S. from 2000 to 2013, including in 31 of the 50 largest metro areas, immigrants accounted for all the growth in so-called Main Street businesses, according to a new study based on analysis of census data. Such firms are grouped in three categories: lodging and food, retail and neighborhood services such as dry cleaning and beauty salons. Immigrants made up nearly one out of three owners of these small, independent businesses in 2013, said the report jointly prepared by the nonpartisan Fiscal Policy Institute and the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. That year, immigrants were 13% of the U.S. population and 16% of its labor force.

“These are businesses that don’t often get a lot of attention from economic development officials, and don’t have huge profits. But they play a big role in neighborhood revitalization, and they can be an important economic step up for the entrepreneurs,” said David Kallick, author of the report.


The Wall Street Journal (2)

Obama Immigration Budget Underscores Deep Division with GOP




The Tennessean (Front Page Story)

Immigrant entrepreneurs boost ‘main streets’ in Nashville



Nashville immigrants have made a significant contribution to the local economy, especially through an outsized presence among local “main street” businesses, according to a new report by the Fiscal Policy Institute, a New York-based nonpartisan research nonprofit. In the larger Nashville metro area, immigrants account for 8 percent of the population and 9 percent of business owners, yet they make up a disproportionate 29 percent of Main Street business owners.

“Immigrants have been an important part of the growth,” said David Dyssegaard Kallick, director of Immigration Research Initiative at the Fiscal Policy Institute. “They are employing people in restaurants and retail stores … and they also play an important role in establishing the character of a neighborhood and helping neighborhood economic growth.”


The Tennessean (2)

Four Immigrant Business Owners Took Chances to Find Success




The Tennessean (3)

Obama Official Promotes SBA’s Bilingual Approach




Philadelphia Inquirer

Many ways to help immigrant businesses, report says




Minneapolis Post

How immigrants in the Twin Cities build the economy — and revitalize neighborhoods




St. Paul Pioneer Press Online

Rubén Rosario: Down on Main Street, they’re still building America




Twin Cities Business

How Immigrants In The Twin Cities Build The Economy—And Revitalize Neighborhoods




New York Daily News

‘Hate’ on Capitol Hill hurts immigrants on ‘Main Street’




The Week Magazine

How Immigration Reform Would Affect Small Businesses





3 cities where immigrants helped save Main Street



South Philadelphia’s Italian Market has long been the go-to spot for pasta and cannoli. But in the past two decades, a new set of business owners have moved into the neighborhood, bringing Mexican, Vietnamese and Korean food with them.

The transformation follows a national trend: new immigrants are increasingly becoming the face of community businesses across the country and, in some cases, a lifeline for dying neighborhoods.

Nationally, immigrants make up 13 percent of the population, but represent an outsized 28 percent of Main Street business owners, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas and the Fiscal Policy Institute.











Crain’s New York Business

Report: Immigrant biz powered NYC’s comeback




The Miami Herald

Report shines light on role of immigrant-owned small businesses




NBC News Latino

Most Main Street Growth Due To Immigrant-Owned Businesses




State Recognizing the Value of New Americans


March 2015



Main Street prospera gracias a los inmigrantes, según estudio





Main Street prospera gracias a los inmigrantes, según estudio




El País

Los nuevos dueños de la calle en Estados Unidos



Country: Spain


Buffalo News

New Businesses Follow Refugees Settling in Buffalo Neighborhoods




Animal Político

Los migrantes se hacen del comercio




Washington Times

Many Ways to Help Immigrant Businesses




The Wall Street Journal Americas

Los pequeños comercios en EE.UU. crecen gracias a los inmigrantes




FOX News Latino

Main Street prospera gracias a los inmigrantes, según estudio




Globo Online

Imigrantes são os novos donos dos pequenos negócios dos Estados Unidos




Latin Times

Pequeños negocios de inmigrantes impulsan el crecimiento local en EU




Washington Times Inside

Report: Many ways to help immigrant businesses




The Oregonian

Immigration Keeps the United States Going (Guest Editorial)




Moving America Forward

How New Americans Are Shoring Up America’s Economy





900,000 extranjeros “dueños de la economía estadunidense”; Alejandro Valenzuela a Banco Azteca; Jeef Bezos, 250 mdd en Amazon



Country: Mexico


Huffinton Post

The Entrepreneurial Advantage




El País Uruguay

La inmigración en Estados Unidos, los nuevos dueños de la economía





Los inmigrantes son claves para el repunte económico – laraza.com




Think Progress

Group Invokes Martin Luther King Jr. To Push Anti-Immigrant Message





Nuevo informe revela el importante aporte de los inmigrantes a la economía nacional




New Haven Register

Immigrant-Owned Businesses Help Shape Local Economy




Mundo Ejecutivo Express

Extranjeros, “dueños de la economía estadounidense”




CourierPost Online

Diversity extends to business as immigrants open up shop




WFMZ Television, Allentown PA

Immigrants more likely than US born to own a small business




Radio La Primerisima

Migrantes, cruciales para la vitalidad económica



Country: Nicaragua


Contra Punto

Los migrantes se hacen del comercio




South Coast Today

Immigrants fundamental to Main Street business, study shows




Radio La Primerisima

Pequeñas empresas de inmigrantes se extienden por toda la Unión Americana



Country: Nicaragua



Los inmigrantes transforman y revitalizan las ciudades





Los nuevos dueños de la calle en Estados Unidos



Country: Mexico


Radio La Primerisima

Pequeños negocios de inmigrantes se extienden por todo EEUU



Country: Nicaragua


The Epoch Times

美移民企业家迅速增长 推动经济发展(US immigrant entrepreneurs to promote economic development in the rapidly growing)




Shukan NY Seikatsu

美移民企业家迅速增长 推动经济发展(US immigrant entrepreneurs to promote economic development)




SF Gate

Report: Many ways to help immigrant businesses




Dirigentes Digital

La inmigración, discreta fuerza emprendedora en Estados Unidos – Dirigentes Digital



Country: Spain


Nacional Online

Miles dominicanos EEUU alerta con envío doble citas




IT Business Net

Immigrants more likely than US born to own a small business




Architecture Lab

3 cities where immigrants helped save Main Street – Architecture Lab



Country: Lebanon


Corporate Media News

Immigrants more likely than US born to own a small business




Sina News

移民占纽约人口37% 被指对城市经济发展影响积极 (37% of the population of New York City Economic Development alleged impact on immigrants accounted for positive)





Small Businesses: Ausländer möbeln US-Städte auf




NC Policy Watch

Immigrant business-owners are essential to main street




Resources for Entrepreneurs

Immigrants Are Driving Main Street Business Growth




The Progressive Pulse

Immigrant Business Owners Are Essential to Main Street




The Telegram, Worcester, MA

Immigrant Entrepreneurs Prospering on Main Street




Radio La Primerisima

Inmigrantes controlan varios giros de negocios como gasolineras y tintorerías





Main Street prospera gracias a los inmigrantes




Radio La Primerisima

Estudio revela que Main Street prospera gracias a los migrantes




The Weekly Standard

Immigration Advocates, Opponents – and Hypocrites


Date: 01/17/2015


Televisa Mexico

Main Street prospera gracias a los migrantes: estudio




Yahoo! Noticias Argentina

Inmigrantes controlan varios giros de negocios en EUA: informe




Main Street prospera gracias a los inmigrantes, según estudio





Report shines light on role of immigrant-owned small businesses





Three Cities Where New Immigrants Revitalized Main Street




Alianza Metropolitan News

Main Street prospera gracias a los inmigrantes, según estudio




Guia Gratuita

Main Street prospera gracias a los inmigrantes, según estudio



Statement on Mayor’s Budget Commitment to Increase Wages for Low-wage Nonprofit Social Sector Workers

May 8, 2015.

Contact: James Parrott, Deputy Director, Fiscal Policy Institute, 212-721-5624

“The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) and the Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI) applaud the Mayor for including in his Executive Budget a first-ever $11.50 per hour wage floor for the City’s contracted social service workforce. FPWA and FPI have been advocating for this important commitment over the past year. This will mean a big earnings boost for 10,000 workers whose wages currently average less than $10.00 per hour. These front-line workers, many of whom live in poverty or near-poverty conditions, provide early childhood education, foster care, afterschool programs, senior case management, housing services, and other vital programs for vulnerable populations. This wage increase is an important first step in ensuring a living wage for this essential workforce. In addition, we are encouraged by the inclusion of a 2.5% cost of living adjustment for social service workers, and commend the Human Services Council (HSC) for leading the advocacy community in this effort. We are also heartened to see the inclusion of $5 million to develop a Career Pathways System for the social services sector that will at long-last provide real opportunities for these dedicated workers to advance up a career ladder.

These essential investments reflect Mayor de Blasio’s profound commitment to further improve the quality of social services and make progress toward reducing poverty and income inequality.”

FPI’s work on this campaign has been supported by the New York Community Trust.

PDF of Statement

Obama Official Promotes SBA’s Bilingual Approach

April 24, 2015. The head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Maria Contreras-Sweet, visited Nashville to promote an initiative aimed at helping immigrant entrepreneurs this week. An article in The Tennessean referred to a study by the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative that examined the role of immigrants in Main Street business ownership, and highlighted Nashville as one of three case study cities, including a focus on the Conexión Americas program featured in the article.

Contreras-Sweet visited Nashville and Conexion Americas four months after Obama made a similar trip concerning immigration reform. Both pointed to strides the city has made in welcoming its rapidly growing immigrant population, which plays a significant role in the city’s economy. According to a recent Fiscal Policy Institute study, immigrants make up 29 percent of main street business owners in Nashville.

Real Living Wage NYC Educational Breakfast Forum

April 23, 2015, Manhattan. James Parrott delivered this presentation at the Community Church of New York for the Real Living Wage NYC Educational Forum, a gathering of New York City faith leaders committed to a “faith-based movement for racial and economic justice.

Parrott uses the 2014 NYC Self-Sufficiency Standard as a basis for identifying a “real living wage” level for New York City.

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