ALBANY >> Two conservative groups condemned Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for a $15 an hour minimum wage Thursday, saying a raise would cost an estimate 432,500 jobs in New York.

“Raising the minimum wage has a negative impact on employment levels and job creation,” the report from the American Action Forum and the Empire Center said. Economic research done from the 1950s on “shows that the workers who tend to become jobless are the low-skilled, low-wage workers whom the policy intends to help.”

The group conceded “a minimum wage hike would benefit some workers by increasing their earnings” but said “it would also hurt hundreds of thousands of others whose earnings would sink because they could no longer find or keep a job.”

“There will be people who benefit,” report co-author Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former Syracuse University professor, said at a press conference. “They will have a job, keep a job, get a raise … but there will be those who will not get hired who otherwise would have been hired, they will be damaged. The smaller the (pay) increase, the less of that will go on.”

“It’s people with just high school degrees or maybe just a G.E.D.,” said E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center. “It’s people in marginal populations of all sorts who are trying to get on to their first job, get employed. They are the people who will be hurt by this.”

“I don’t think by any stretch of the imagination the governor intends that to happen,” McMahon said. “And the problem is the advocates of this policy pretend or fail to notice or even acknowledge not just the possibility but the probability that that will happen, that there will be a trade-off” of lost jobs for some and higher pay for others.

The “medium impact” losses of 432,500 would range from a low of 7,300 jobs in the North Country to a high of 195,000 in New York City. The report estimated a loss of 25,900 jobs in the Albany area, 45,000 in the Hudson Valley, and 9,100 in the Mohawk Valley, among other places.

The 432,500 figure was one of three contained in the report, with a low impact of 200,000 and high impact of 588,800 lost jobs across the state.

Cuomo’s office said the claims were untrue. The governor’s office said the minimum wage has been raised seven times in New York state since 1991 and employment has grown in six of those seven instances.

“It’s no surprise this report mirrors the world view of an organization backed by the very forces that fight against every minimum wage increase and runs counter to the findings of the U.S. Labor Department, noted economists and past experience in New York,” Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said in a statement released to the media. “The Governor and a majority of New Yorkers believe that if you work full time you shouldn’t be condemned to a life of poverty.”

The American Action Forum, which Holtz-Eakin heads, is a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. that also partners with a PAC called the American Action Alliance. According to the Center for Responsive Politics and its OpenSecrets campaign spending database, the PAC has been funded in the past by Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and the Republican Jewish Coalition, the group backed by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

The Empire Center, which wrote the forward to the report, is a conservative government watchdog group focusing on holding down taxes and spending in state and local government. It has created a website that is a database of state and local government payrolls, pensions, contracts and other fiscal information of interest to taxpayers.

McMahon is a former top aide to Republican Gov. George Pataki.

The press conference was the second in two days here held by critics of the minimum wage hike. Wednesday, business owners said it would be hard to absorb the higher payroll without raising prices and employing fewer people.

The proposal is expected to be one of Cuomo’s top priorities when the Legislature returns in January for the 2016 session.

© 2015 NYSNYS News


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Empire Center for Public Policy
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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.