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Raising the Minimum Wage: The Impact on Women, People of Color, and Immigrants in Western New York

Date: Jan 26, 2023
Author(s): Sam Magavern, Russell Weaver, Haley Smith
Topic(s): Economic Development: Economic Conditions, Economic Development: General, Economic Development: High Road Economic Development, Economic Development: Policies and Programs
Type: Policy Brief

The New York State Legislature is weighing legislation to raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation and worker productivity. In this brief, we examine the impact of such legislation in terms of bringing workers in Western New York closer to a living wage, which is the hourly wage sufficient to meet basic needs such as housing, food, childcare, transportation, and medical expenses.

 We focus on women, people of color, and immigrants – three groups that have high concentrations of workers in low-wage industries and are disproportionally affected by poverty. These groups also face higher costs of living due to long histories of discrimination, segregation, and exploitation.

This policy brief concludes that the legislative proposal to raise New York’s minimum wage gradually to $20 by 2026 in upstate New York, catch it up to the statewide rate by 2027, and adjust it each year to keep pace with rising prices and worker productivity growth would go a long way towards moving pay in Western New York closer to a living wage – with tremendous benefits for women workers, workers of color, and foreign-born workers.