Allowing New York City to raise its minimum wage would create a “chaotic situation,” Governor Cuomo explained last February, before moving on to even less convincing metaphors: “We don’t want to cannibalize ourselves.” Now, as part of his new “Opportunity Agenda,” Governor Cuomo has proposed raising the state’s minimum wage to $10.50 by the end of 2016, and make New York City’s $11.50 over the same period of time.

In a statement, Cuomo’s office notes that “a reasonable minimum wage is a necessity in order to improve the standard of living for workers, encourage fair and more efficient business practices, and ensure that the most vulnerable members of the workforce can contribute to the economy.”

New York’s minimum wage is set to increase to $9 this year, up from $8.75. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25; its purchasing power has actually decreased since the 1960s.


The Governor, who lately has had less trouble finding the more progressive-leaning portions of his vertebrae, told the Rev. Al Sharpton earlier today that he would “create the highest minimum wage in America.”

Given that Seattle and San Francisco have passed laws raising the minimum wage to $15/hour—Chicago’s will rise to $13, and DC’s to $11.50—Cuomo obviously has more work to do.

In a statement, Flavia Cabral, a 51-year-old mother of two from the Bronx, and a member of the SEIU-supported group Fast Food Forward, called Cuomo’s announcement “a step in the right direction,” but added that it “does not go far enough to help me afford rent and clothing and groceries for my two kids every month.”

Most fast food workers in America earn around $8.90/hour, well below the national poverty level.

“The reason that cities all over the nation are moving towards $15 is because that’s what it costs to make ends meet in a big city today,” Cabral says. “My coworkers at McDonald’s and me know that it takes at least $15 an hour to support our families and we’ll be fighting alongside New York’s 3 million low-wage workers until we win."

For more on the positive effects of raising the wages of low-income workers, see What Happens When Low Wage Workers Suddenly Get a Living Wage?