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Big Boost for Living Wage Bill

December 6, 2010

National Study Backs Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act

A landmark new study by the Center for American Progress (CAP), a highly respected research organization in Washington D.C., is a must-read for everyone in the New York City Council.

Analyzing nearly twenty years of data, the study reveals that cities around the country have successfully incorporated living wage standards into economic development projects without harming employment growth or business growth. For a good overview, read this Crains New York Business story.

The CAP study puts to rest the debate over living wage standards for jobs created through economic development subsidies, and discredits the work of David Neumark, the economist right now leading a $1 million dollar living wage study for New York City’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

There are two immediate consequences worth emphasizing here: 1) At a time when massive city budget cuts and layoffs are on the horizon, the EDC has no rationale for wasting $1 million taxpayer dollars on a study that will not even be credible; 2) hard data and evidence in the CAP study justify strong support for the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act.

New Yorkers in every Council district are struggling. Many people who want to work are unemployed and looking for good jobs that will help them support their families. And many people who are fortunate to have jobs are working in sectors like retail where poverty wages, not living wages, are the norm.

The Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act would help ensure that future economic development projects create the high-quality, well-paying jobs that New Yorkers in every Council district want and deserve.

Now is the time for the City Council to call for an immediate hearing on the bill and to push for swift passage of this crucial legislation.