Report: $15 Minimum Wage Would Have Big Job Cost in NY

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A proposed $15 an hour statewide minimum wage could cost New York State at least 200,000 jobs, according to a report released today by the Empire Center for Public Policy and the American Action Forum.

“Our report shows that a massive increase in the minimum wage would actually hurt the very low-wage, low-skill workers it is supposed to help,” said E.J. McMahon, president of the Empire Center. “The impact on job creation and employment opportunities would be substantial in every region of New York, especially upstate.”

“Pay increases for millions will come at the expense of lost employment opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people,” McMahon said. “That’s an unacceptably high price to pay for a policy that will significantly disrupt labor markets and business conditions throughout the state.”

The report’s authors—Douglas Holtz-Eakin, AAF’s president, and Ben Gitis, its director of labor market policy—examined the potential employment impacts of statewide minimum wage increases to $15 and $12, assuming they would be phased in over three years in New York City and five years in the rest of the state. They used three different research models to produce low, medium and high projected impacts on jobs and net total wage growth.

The prediction that raising the wage to $15 will result in 200,000 fewer jobs statewide was the low-impact scenario based on a methodology developed by the Congressional Budget Office, of which Holtz-Eakin is a former director. Two other models, based on research by academic economists at Texas A&M and the University of California at San Diego, project statewide job losses of 432,500 and 588,800, respectively.

A table providing a regional breakdown of employment impacts under each modeling scenario is posted here.

Less than 7 percent of the people who would see wage increases under a $15 minimum wage are currently below the poverty line, the report said.

The Empire Center is a non-partisan, non-profit, independent think tank based in Albany. The American Action Forum is a non-profit policy institute based in Washington, D.C.