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NYC "Fair Wages" Report: Predictably Biased Against a Living Wage
Lauren Kelley

May 11, 2011
View the Original Article

No one expected a glowing assessment of a New York City living wage bill in the report funded by the NYC Economic Development Corporation -- after all, there have been concerns about the outcome of this report since the study's research team was announced last August. As Crain's New York reported on August 12:

"[T]he very administration commissioning the study has repeatedly argued that living and prevailing wage provisions would hinder development and kill jobs, creating the perception that the outcome is already determined.

And the selection of Charles River [Associates] added fuel to the fire because two of its leading consultants—David Neumark and David Macpherson—are outspoken critics of wage mandates, though Macpherson is not on the living wage study team."

I knew the study's research team was problematic, to say the least. But when the report finally dropped on Monday, just days before the City Council's initial hearing on the bill, I couldn't help but be disappointed that researchers so blatantly ignored the evidence that living wage laws have a positive effect on cities and workers alike.

According to the report's executive summary (which you can read here), the researchers concluded that "the employment losses that could result from a decline in real estate in response to the living wage mandate are significant....These losses impact employees at all wage levels."

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., a Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act supporter, countered the report's findings in a statement posted on his website Monday. "[T]here is a host of evidence contradicting the City’s report," he said, adding that the legislation "would lessen the financial burden on taxpayers by lowering dependence on government programs such as welfare and food stamps."

One final note about the study: it didn't come cheap. The Bloomberg administration paid Charles River Associates a cool $1 million for the project. As Diaz summed it up, "The mayor wasted $1 million of taxpayer funds on this study, simply to provide trumped-up evidence for their pre-determined conclusions on the ‘Fair Wages for New Yorkers’ Act.”

Sign our petition urging the support of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who remains a critical "wild card" in this debate. And check this space for updates after Thursday's City Council hearing.