New York City Raising Minimum Wage To $15 An Hour: Is A Recession Imminent?

Oregon has been calling for a rise in minimum wage for months now, but it looks like New York City will be the first to take the plunge to $15 minimum wage for city employees. Mayor Bill de Blasio is planning to announce on Wednesday afternoon that pay for approximately 50,000 of the city’s workers will rise to $15 an hour at the base level. This will result in the highest minimum wage in the country for city workers.

It’s no surprise that New York City is a frontrunner for success in the Fight for $15 campaign. According to an interview from the Daily News with Hector Figueroa, president of SEIU, the mayor has been a major supporter of the campaign for $15 an hour all along.

“When New York City fast-food workers launched their fight for $15 three years ago they started a movement that swept through our city and our country,” Figueroa said. “Mayor de Blasio stood on the picket line with the first strikers and now he’s putting his steadfast support of fair pay in action with his plan to raise the minimum wage for city employees and city-contracted employees.”

All over the nation, minimum wage workers are raising their pickets to protest the low wages of fast food and city workers. They're calling for $15 per hour minimum wage, no matter what that will do to the economy. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

This rise in wages will not happen all at once. It will gradually incline until 2019 when all workers will be paid at least $15 per hour. The state’s current minimum wage is just $9 an hour, $1.75 above the federal rate. This will be a huge jump for the state that may set a precedent for the entire country.

This is one of many pay raises to occur in the state. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo boosted the minimum wage rate for state university employees to $15 an hour. It’s set to rise at the same rate as the city employee’s new pay scale.

Last summer, the state government also recommended a wage hike to $15 an hour for fast food workers on a statewide level. It was suggested that the governor would approve the deal, and in September, it was made official that New York would be required to pay their fast food workers $15 per hour.

The announcement that New York City would pay its city workers $15 per hour could set a precedent for the entire state, but for now, it’s only localized to the city itself. They don’t have the authority to set the wage for the state. The hike will most commonly affect seasonal workers, park aides, crossing guards, and janitors among others employed by the city.

This is a prominent start to the hunt for higher pay for minimum wage workers, although most of the city’s 300,000 city workers already make more than $15 per hour. This won’t directly affect those paid more, but eventually, everyone in the city will begin to feel the effects of the wage hike. When pay is raised for the lowest levels of workers, it will eventually begin to incline for higher paid workers as well. It’s the natural flow of the economy. The scary part is that businesses might not be able to keep up.

This has been seen in numerous other states as well, and the natural inflation of the economy will follow there as well. Chicago, Oakland, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are also in talks to raise the pay floors to $15 minimum under the Fight for $15 campaign.

The Fight for $15 Movement began with fast food workers demanding higher pay. In November, protesters organized a National Day of Action for the cause, marching down the streets of New York City to raise awareness of their low pay. Home care, fast food, and retail workers made up the bulk of the protestors. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The $15-an-hour wage looks great on the surface for New York City’s economy, as pointed out by Mayor de Blasio in the official statement.

“We know that nothing does more to lift up working families and move our economy forward than raising wages, and the city is leading by example by doing just that,” he said.

However, there’s also a danger in raising the minimum wage so quickly and so drastically.

Nicole Gelinas of the Manhatten Institute, a conservative association, told the New York Times, “The mayor has been lucky so far with the economy. If a recession comes, higher wages will have to mean more layoffs.”

In other words, it seems good that New York City has raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour on the surface, but in time, this may prove to be an economic decision to drive another recession.

[Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]