Why New York State Should Let Cities and Counties Enact Higher Local Minimum Wages

February 14, 2014. While New York’s economy is gradually recovering, far too many workers still earn very low wages. Pay for the typical New Yorker has not kept up with inflation, and the majority of new jobs being created in New York and nationally are in low paying fields. As communities in New York struggle with these serious economic challenges, other states have empowered localities to respond by adopting higher local minimum wages. From California to Maryland, growing numbers of cities and counties are enacting higher local minimum wages to fight poverty locally. They have found that these policies have improved jobs and local economies, without hurting business growth.

This joint report from the Fiscal Policy Institute and the National Employment Law Project provides an overview of the positive experiences in other states with higher local minimum wages and makes the case for empowering cities and counties in New York to do the same. The report presents data on the needs of low-wage New York workers and their families, and the potential broad benefits of allowing higher city or county minimum wages. With millions of New Yorkers earning low wages, allowing cities and counties to raise the wage floor above New York’s current minimum wage would have a significant and positive impact on low-wage workers, their families, and local communities.