The state Assembly has voted to increase New York's minimum wage to $9 an hour with future automatic increases tied to inflation.
That was one of the hot-button topics talked about on Wednesday at a meeting hosted by the Greater Binghamton Chamber. Unshackle Upstate Executive Director, Brian Sampson, was one of the keynote speakers. He says some lawmakers don't understand the impact that increasing the minimum wage will have on smaller businesses.
Sampson says it's ironic that the Assembly feels it has a moral obligation to help raise peoples incomes while at the same time denying New Yorkers the chance to get jobs in the natural gas drilling industry by voting for a new moratorium. "Last time New York raised its minimum wage we lost about 20 percent of the opportunities for people between the ages of 16 and 24. Clearly there are studies from Cornell indicating that this will lead to job loss. If the state is really serious about wanting to help people raise themselves up from minimum wage then they should be looking at other things such as in the earned income tax credit."
Sampson says New York ranks at the bottom when it comes to business climates. And, often times one of the only costs companies can control are labor. Wednesday's other speaker was Mike Durant of the National Federation of Independent Business. Durant says, "You have to understand the economic reality of the state. We rank dead last in the cost of doing business. We have one of the worst state tax burdens and there's no end in sight. So, the state's mandating a cost on businesses and we really haven't had enough progress in the past two years to make this affordable."
The organizations say reducing unemployment and workers compensation insurances and healthcare costs are a few ways to make businesses more competitive. That in turn would allow companies to be able to give employees raises.