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Living Wage Study Ordered By Bloomberg Agrees With Bloomberg
John Del Signore

May 10, 2011
View the Original Article

Whaddaya know, the study that Mayor Bloomberg requested on a proposed living wage law has determined exactly what Bloomberg wanted to hear: That requiring developers who receive taxpayer subsidies to pay a living wage would actually hurt employment in NYC. The NYC Economic Development Corporation spent $1 million in taxpayer money to pay a Boston-based consulting firm (they couldn't even source it locally!?) to produce the controversial study, which City Hall News notes was co-authored by a professor who's seen by some as having a long history releasing reports slanted against the adoption of wage mandates.

The living wage bill would require all employers in developments that receive more than $100,000 in city subsidies to pay workers $10-per-hour if the employer pays health care benefits, or $11.50 an hour if they do not. (A similar initiative that would have required a developer at the Kingsbridge Armory to pay a living wage was shot down by the Bloomberg administration.) The Walls Street Journal reports that the Bloomberg-sponsored study found that:

About one-third of retail projects in the boroughs outside Manhattan would not proceed if the legislation passes. The study estimates 24% of office projects in Manhattan would also fail. Such a decrease in commercial development would translate into the loss of roughly 33,000 jobs per year at all levels of compensation, the study said.

The study also said between 34,000 and 62,000 workers would receive average wage gains ranging from $1.65 to $1.67 per hour. But at the same time, between 6,000 and 13,000 city residents would lose jobs as a result of the legislation.

A mayoral spokesperson further scaremongered that if the bill passes, the city would lose an estimated $7 billion. That number is apparently nowhere in the study, but that's what Bloomberg guesstimates. Council Member Oliver Koppell, a Bronx Democrat and the bill's lead sponsor, told the Journal he's "very skeptical" of the findings. And Bettina Damiani, project director for Good Jobs New York, asks City Hall News, "If working New Yorkers can’t count on earning a living wage," she said, "what policy recommendations does the Bloomberg Administration plan to put forward to lift workers out of poverty?"

That question is sure to come up tomorrow, when the City Council holds a hearing on the proposal. The bill's fate largely rests in the hands of Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has not said whether she supports it, but has previously killed a paid-sick-leave bill, after a study funded by the Partnership for New York City showed the legislation would cost the city $789 million annually.