timeclock-bw-150x150-7441211How would a proposed $15-per-hour statewide minimum wage compare to current pay ranges and historical precedents in New York?

One useful standard of comparison is the federal government’s estimate of the median wage for all jobs. The median is the midway point on the pay scale, with half of jobs paying more and half paying less. The chart below shows how the medians for different New York regions line up against the current statewide minimum of $8.75 as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $15 minimum, which would be phased in by 2021 for areas outside New York City.

screen-shot-2015-09-14-at-9-18-04-am-8224600

The median hourly wage of all full- and part-time jobs (estimated as of May 2014) ranged from a high of $21.73 in the New York City metro area (which includes the White Plains and Wayne, NJ, metros) to a low of $15.30 in the Glens Falls area. Other upstate regions with median wages just above $15 include Utica-Rome at $15.91, along with the non-metro areas of Capital/Northern New York at $15.77, Central New York at $15.59 and Southwest non-metro New York at $15.49.

What would Mario do?

Governor Cuomo has evoked the memory of his late father in support of what he is now calling the “Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice.” As governor, Mario Cuomo proposed a minimum wage increase at least once, seeking to increase the level from $3.35 to $3.75. That increase, which failed to pass the Legislature, would have represented a modest bump of 12 percent compared to the 67 percent boost proposed by his son (comparing $15 to the $9 scheduled to take effect in 2016).

New York State tracked the federal wage throughout Cuomo’s tenure, rising from $3.35 in 1983 to $4.25 in 1994. In real terms, in 2015 dollars, that represented a decrease from $8.03 to $6.84.

To be sure, it would seem safe to assume that, if Mario Cuomo were still alive, he would support the policy advocated by his son. Nonetheless, the historical record shows he never came close to advocating the same thing while he was governor.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

NY Post-Pandemic Employment Tide Stopped Rising At Year’s End

New York's post-pandemic employment recovery came to a halt and moved into reverse in December, according to the state's for the final month of COVID-wracked 2020. Private payroll employment in December was 966,000 jobs below the level of the previous Read More

Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal leaves the Medicaid throttle open

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Governor Cuomo's Medicaid budget is how little it changes the program's spending pattern. In spite of a once-in-century pandemic that rocked the state's health-care system and decimated state revenues, the govern Read More

The State’s Vaccine Appointment System Was Not Ready for Prime Time

The two top priorities Governor Cuomo identified in his State of the State speech Monday morning were "Defeat COVID" and "Vaccinate New York." Read More

New York Is Still Waiting For a Viable COVID-19 Vaccination Plan

Going on four weeks into what should have been a mass vaccination program, it's increasingly clear that the Cuomo administration did not have – and does not have – an adequate plan for immunizing 20 million New Yorkers. Read More

The Cuomo Administration Resists Sharing Records of its Vaccine Review

After second-guessing the FDA with its own vaccine task force, the Cuomo administration is declining to share even basic information about that panel's approval process until mid-February. Read More

Cuomo’s Summary of COVID-19 Contact Tracing Data Raises More Questions Than It Answers

The Cuomo administration's recently released summary of contact tracing data was a tantalizing disappointment. Information that could have clarified the risks of different activities during the coronavirus pandemic was pres Read More

State Tax Receipts Strong Again in November, But Jobs Recovery Remains Slow

New York State's tax receipts in November were a whopping $800 million above Governor Cuomo's projections for the month—further evidence that the current-year budget gap is probably much smaller than Cuomo has been claiming. Meanwhile, however, priva Read More

Cuomo NYSDOL to Struggling Small Biz: Your Employees Will Soon Cost More

Despite the crushing impact of pandemic restrictions on small businesses throughout New York, the state Labor Department announced late today that it will move forward with a big minimum wage increase scheduled for the end of the month. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100
Fax: 518-434-3130
E-Mail: info@empirecenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.