Minimum Wage Increases in NY Since 1990

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says a minimum wage increase this year is not in the "realm of possiblity." AP/Evan Agostini

Although the New York State Assembly passed a bill that would raise the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 on May 15, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says pushing the bill through the GOP-dominated Senate is not in the “realm of possibility.” Progressive organizations have condemned the governors inaction on a wage hike, and fiscal conservatives are defending his decision as supportive of the business community.


MetroFocus looked at minimum wage increases since 1990 and changes in the poverty threshold to give you a better idea of where full-time, minimum-wage earners currently stand.

Year New York Minimum Wage New York Minimum Wage Annual Salary Federal Poverty Line
1990 $3.80 $7,904 $6,280
1991 $4.25 $9,840 $6,620
2000 $5.15 $10,712 $8,350
2005 $6.00 $12,480 $9,570
2006 $6.75 $14,040 $9,800
2007 $7.15 $14,872 $10,210
2009 $7.25 $15,050 $10,830
2012 $7.25 $15,050 $11,170

The table shows each year the minimum wage has been increased in New York State since 1990 and the correlating annual salary of 40 hours per week at minimum wage. The last column indicates what the federal poverty line was in a given year. MetroFocus/Kevon Greene

After Cuomo announced that a minimum wage increase isn’t viable this year, a number of liberal groups attempted to push the governor to change his mind, reported The New York Times.

Russel Sykes, a senior fellow at the Empire Center for New York State Policy, told the Times that a minimum wage increase could disqualify many poor families from the Earned Income Tax Credit, and that the credit would be more beneficial than the wage jump.

A day later, Dean Baker, co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, responded in Business Insider:

“It seems a bit strange to argue that low-income family is hurt by raising their income. (The EITC peaks at 45 percent, which means that in a worse case scenario a minimum wage worker would lose 45 cents from the EITC for every dollar increase in their wage income. Few workers would see this much of a loss.)”

Most New York State voters, 79 percent to be exact, are in favor of an $8.50 minimum wage, according to a recent Siena Research Poll. According to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, the minimum wage increase would directly affect 609,000 minimum wage workers and indirectly affect 473,000 workers, and raise the annual salary of an affected worker by $880 per year on average.

As The New York World pointed out, a list of powerful corporations, including Wal-Mart and Darden Restaurant Group, have lobbied around the minimum wage increase in New York State this year.

Meanwhile, in New York City, the top one percent of earners made a third of the city’s income in 2009, according to a new report by the Comptroller’s office. The report’s figures for 2009 — the last year the minimum wage was raised — shows that 1,278,646  income tax filers, or 36.6 percent of tax filers in New York City, earned $20,000 or less. This segment is the largest group of tax filers in New York City, and between 2000 and 2009, its percentage has fluctuated between 35 and 37.5 percent.


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