A Gender-Wage War Cuomo Fails to Fight

By , New York Daily News

April 20, 2017

Gov. Cuomo recently announced a comprehensive study of New York’s gender wage gap, including at least four public hearings to develop recommendations for tackling this problem.

We appreciate the sentiment, but if the governor truly wants to address this issue, he should start in his backyard — by looking at his own policies of setting wages barely above the poverty line for social assistance workers under contract with New York State.

Through these contracts, the state is responsible for setting the wages for hundreds of thousands of workers who deliver critical programs — including homeless services, mental health care and elder assistance.

Human services workers are overwhelmingly women (more than 80%) and heavily women of color (44% of the total). And they are some of the lowest-paid workers in New York’s economy.

The Restore Opportunity Now campaign, a coalition of more than 340 nonprofit organizations across the state, recently released a report showing human services have been one of the leading job growth sectors in New York’s economy over the past several decades, particularly in economically stagnant areas of the state.

This sector accounted for 21% of all private job growth in the suburbs and upstate from 1990 to 2016. But despite being well-educated, this workforce earns only 40% of the average for all workers in New York.

According to an analysis by the Fiscal Policy Institute, 50% to 75% of human services workers in New York are paid less than $15 an hour, a greater share than in all other industries. (read more)