ALBANY — For the Scavio family, the owners of Paesan’s Pizza in the Capital Region, it’s impossible to absorb a $15 an hour minimum wage increase.

“There’s no way any small company, especially in the food industry, can pay people $15 an hour. The money is just not there,” said Lorenzo Scavio.

The current minimum wage is $8.75 per hour. The family said they’re already bracing for the impact of a $15 an hour fast food worker wage increase that will be phased in over the next several years. They say the governor’s proposal for an across the board $15 minimum wage could hurt even more.

“Five years ago we were expanding. Today, we’re going the opposite way,” Vincent Scavio said.

The Empire Center, a local think-tank said Paesan’s is the kind of business the governor’s proposal would hurt the most.

“Who is going to be left standing among law income employers if you do this. Let me tell you what the answer is. It’s Walmart. It’s McDonald’s. It’s the chain companies,” said Empire Center President E.J. McMahon.

The organization along with American Action Forum released a new study that looked at the impact of a minimum wage hike. They estimate the state would lose between 200,000 to 500,000 jobs. In addition, the organization said the massive wage increase would mostly impact the low income people it was supposed to help.

“The point of our findings is that it’s not good for poor workers, that in fact it’s going to fairly, significantly reduce job opportunities,” said McMahon.

Those in favor of a wage increase said this study doesn’t make any sense. They said small businesses may need some help in the transition, but the economy will not fall apart.

“There’s equally amount of studies that say the opposite, more than that,” said Mark Emanatian from Citizen Action. “Everytime the minimum wage has been raise, both federally when the minimum wage was established in the 1930’s, and here in NYS in the 1970’s, they’ve said the exact same thing. The sky will fall, the economy will completely fall apart and jobs will be lost. It’s not the truth.

© 2015 WNYT


You may also like

$15 minimum wage to cost taxpayers an extra $838M for Medicaid

Bill Hammond, a writer specializing in Medicaid issues for the Empire Center’s NY Torch blog, said when he reviewed the budget, it confirmed his suspicion that the administration intentionally underestimated the cost to make it more palatable to taxpayers. Read More

Editorial: Earned income tax credit program a better way to hike wages

Given how unpopular a minimum wage hike is among key parties in the state, it’s no surprise that some people have been contemplating alternatives. Read More

Empire Center Responds to Cuomo’s “Drive for $15”

Governor Cuomo kicked off his RV tour around the state to push for a higher minimum wage this week. They’re calling it the “Drive for 15″, a play on words to the Fight for 15 campaign. Cuomo continues to say that a higher minimum wage would boost the economy without causing layoffs or price increases. E.J. McMahon disagrees with the governor, who mentioned him by name during an event this week. McMahon joins us to discuss. Read More

Damage assessment: businesses weigh impact of planned minimum wage increase

EJ McMahon called it “one of he most sweeping and heedlessly risky … steps the state government has ever taken in terms of its impact on the economy.” Read More

Federal, state tax credits comparable solution to $15 minimum wage

A $15 minimum wage in New York state aims to eliminate low-income poverty, but Earned Income Tax Credits could be the solution without the added financial consequences to employers. Read More

Debate heats up over minimum wage

The legislature has until April 1st to pass the Governor's budget. One of the most contentious issues remains the proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Read More

Ben & Jerry’s supports Gov. Cuomo’s $15-an-hour minimum wage push, calls current minimum wage a ‘moral disgrace’

A report released last week by the conservative Empire Center for Public Policy said Cuomo’s plan would cost the state up to 588,800 jobs, including up to 273,800 in the city. Read More

Report: Minimum wage hike could cost jobs

Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour could cost the state nearly 200,000 jobs, a new report by The Empire Center argues. Researchers also said that number could be on the conservative end. Read More


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


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

Phone: 518-434-3100
Fax: 518-434-3130


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.