The weekly City and State opens its feature on the minimum wage issue with a portrait of Michelle Dawkins, who rises at 2:30 a.m. to earn $7.25 an hour ferrying wheelchair-bound passengers among the terminals at JFK airport.  Assuming she is able to work 40 hours a week without a sick day, Dawkins “will make $15,080 over the course of a year,” the article says.

The hard-working Bronx resident is quoted as saying “any bit, even if it’s a quarter more” will make a difference in her lifestyle.

But the story fails to note that, as a single mother, Dawkins also is eligible for an annual earned income tax credit (EITC) of at least $3,040 a year, equivalent to a 20 percent wage bump.  If she has two children (she is quoted as referring to “kids,” but it’s not clear if there are more than the one named in the article), her EITC is $5,112.  Since every little bit helps, surely this was worth noting in connection with the type of individual the tax credit is explicitly designed to help.

The EITC — which, in New York, is exceptionally generous — is only mentioned in passing in the lower half of the article, not with reference to Dawkins personally but as an item cited in differing arguments of the two quoted experts, Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute and James Parrott of the Fiscal Policy Institute.  Nicole notes that studies by economists Richard V. Burkhauser and Joseph Sabia have found that New York’s previous minimum wage hikes have reduced employment opportunities for young workers. In response, Parrott is quoted as debunking the Burkhauser and Sabia research in part on the grounds that they were sponsored by the Employment Policies Institute, which he says is funded by the restaurant industry.

Memo to City and State: if you you think funding sources influence research outcomes, it would be helpful to note that the Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI) isn’t just any old “liberal-leaning” think tank.  It has close ties to major labor unions, whose leaders (including, most notably, Gerald McEntee of AFSCME) comprised five of the Institute’s nine outside board directors  in 2010.  These connections are no secret to other media organizations that haven’t hesitated to regularly describeFPI as “labor-backed.”

There’s certainly nothing wrong with having labor support; Parrott and other Institute staffers are respectable professionals whose work deserves to be considered and debated on its own merits, quite aside from any ideological motivation.  But in fairness, if it was going to cite Parrott’s argument about the Employment Policies Institute, City and State should have mentioned FPI’s union connection. It then might also have noted that public and private unions have a vested interest in higher minimum wages, which reduce low-wage competition and raise the wage floor for union members.  Likewise, higher minimum wages also reduce small business competition for the kind of big corporate retailers cited as supporters of the change — a motive also seemingly lost on reporters covering this issue.

(Full disclosure: here is the list of board members of the Manhattan Institute, of which Empire Center is a project.)


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

As leaves turn, NY’s post-pandemic recovery still has very far to go

New York was the national epicenter of the pandemic, and Governor Cuomo's "New York State on PAUSE" business shutdowns and other restrictions led, in short order, to the loss of nearly 2 million jobs in the first full month after the infection began spreading in the New York City area. Read More

More NY job gains in August—but employment needs to rise a lot further

New York's jobs report for August looked relatively strong—but only by comparison, that is, with what was generally regarded as a disappointing national number. On a seasonally adjusted basis, New York gained 28,000 private-sector jobs last month—a growth rate of 0.4 percent, according to preliminary monthly estimates from the state Labor Department. Read More

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

Fewer Workers, Not More Jobs, Explains NY’s September Unemployment Rate Drop

New York State's unemployment rate has fallen sharply since the economically devastating pandemic lockdown last spring. But as state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli points out in  his latest economic report, the jobless rate doesn't tell the whole story. Read More

It’s Official: New York State’s Second Quarter Economic Crash Was the Worst on Record

Further evidence of the massive damage done to New York’s economy by the coronavirus pandemic shutdown has emerged in the latest gross domestic product (GDP) data from the federal Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Affairs. Read More

Sluggish Reopening: NY’s Private Job Count Down 1.1 Million From Pre-Pandemic Level

Six months into the novel coronavirus pandemic, New York State's private-sector employment recovery was the slowest in the 48 contiguous states—and getting slower. Read More

NY’s Slow Job Climb Continued in July, But Unemployment Rate Unchanged

As the economy continued its slow post-pandemic reopening, New York State continued to slowly regain jobs—but preliminary data indicate there was no improvement in the state's unemployment rate in July. Read More

New Data Confirm New York State’s Q1 Economic Plunge

New York's economy ended the first quarter of this year in virtual free fall, the latest federal data show. 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

General Inquiries:

Press Inquiries:


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.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!