A compromise has been reached on New York's living wage, and it is now estimated that it will help only 400-500 workers a year. Even the bill's opponents will tell you this legislation is no threat to their livelihood. Steven Spinola, the president of the Real Estate Board of New York, isn't losing any sleep over the bill. He was quoted today in the New York Times saying that the legislation's “impact, I believe, will be minimal."
Still, this largely symbolic legislation is too radical for Mayor Mike Bloomberg. His response to the living wage bill this morning on WOR radio was an extreme reaction to a moderate proposal.
"It's interesting if you think about it," he said. "The last time we really had a big managed economy was the USSR and that didn't work out so well. It would be great if all jobs in the city paid a lot of money and had great benefits for the workers. Not good for the employers. But if you force that you will just drive businesses out of the city."
If only Mayor Bloomberg's comments were based on accurate concerns. If only the legislation were a radical overhaul of the pay system in New York City, reflecting the high cost of living and rising rent prices. Instead, New Yorkers are left in a frustrating political situation that does few workers any good: an over reaction to an overly compromised bill.
Where does Mayor Bloomberg draw the line between Soviet and non-Soviet policies? Is the minimum wage a Soviet policy, in his opinion? The answer is no, the Mayor believes in the minimum wage, it's just this particular rate that reminds him of the USSR. He stated earlier this year, "...this year we will join Speaker Shelly Silver in pushing for a responsible raise in the minimum wage."
Also off base is Mayor Bloomberg's concern that the living wage proposal would be a job killer. This argument has been disproven by trustworthy researchers for years, including the Economic Policy Institute which explained:
During recessionary periods in the past two decades—including the Great Recession of 2007–09, when Congress raised the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25—increases in the minimum wage did not cause employment declines. This study bolsters the cross-county study findings because it reveals that, even during economic downturns, raising the minimum wage does not cause job loss.
So, not only is the Mayor over reacting, but the very foundation of his argument is questionable at best.