Wage Increase Will Not Stimulate Business

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state’s current minimum wage is unlivable, citing the costs of gasoline, food, childcare and more.

What the governor didn’t say is that, in most cases, heads of households aren’t living on $7.25 an hour.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in their teens and early 20s made up about half of federal minimum wage earners in 2011. This was despite the fact that the age group represented only 20 percent of hourly paid workers.

Besides, those who are heads of households working at the minimum wage are actually receiving far more than $7.25 an hour, according to the Republican Party of New York State’s website.

Federal and state tax credits increase the take-home pay of minimum wage workers by roughly $3,000 per year, the site reports. It notes that a single mother of two working full-time at minimum wage receives the cash equivalent of nearly $10.50 an hour, which doesn’t include some food stamp and non-cash assistance benefits.

Hiking the minimum wage $1.50 at a time is senseless. It would affect an already poor state business climate.

Chautauqua County’s unemployment rate was at nearly 9 percent last month. Raising the minimum wage will likely raise costs of goods and services, hurt small business owners and cost some New Yorkers their jobs. Before long, the new $8.75 would be just like the old $7.25. What’s the point?

As County Executive Greg Edwards put it recently, jobs are fluid.

“They move toward areas that help them grow and they move away from areas that make it harder. That’s very problematic for us here in Chautauqua County with our border being Pennsylvania,” he said.

What would really help would be extending transitional benefits for those trying to get off public assistance. The state needs to encourage residents to get back to work, to use benefits as a safety net, not to pull the net out from under someone trying to attain true self-sufficiency.

Cuomo’s idea to help hard working New Yorkers is a good one. He could do so by helping to create better jobs and making New York a more business-friendly state.