|Date:||January 25, 2023|
January 25, 2023
“Raising the state’s minimum wage is a powerful tool for making Western New York more equitable and prosperous,” says Russell Weaver, Director of Research at the Cornell ILR Buffalo Co-Lab. “Our research shows that very large numbers of workers – especially women, people of color, and immigrants – are paid wages that are not sufficient to meet basic living expenses. Raising the minimum wage is one of the most efficient ways to make sure that people working full-time are not living in poverty.”
Weaver is one of the authors of a new policy brief from Cornell ILR and the Partnership for the Public Good that examines the potential impact of a proposal currently before the state legislature to raise the minimum wage and index it to rates of inflation and worker productivity. The brief uses a new research tool, the Cornell ILR Wage Atlas, to examine the wages of women, people of color, and immigrants in Western New York and compare them to a “living wage” – i.e., a wage sufficient to meet basic living expenses such as food, rent, and medical care.
The authors find that in the five-county Western New York Labor Market Region, which includes Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, and Niagara Counties:
Furthermore, the gap between the minimum wage and a living wage is growing fast, due to rates of inflation not seen for decades. Therefore, the brief concludes, legislation to raise the minimum wage and tie it to inflation and worker productivity would go a long way toward bringing the minimum wage closer to a living wage. Such a policy change is particularly important for groups that have faced a long history of discrimination and inequity in the workplace, such as women, people of color, and immigrants.
Other findings in the brief include:
The Cornell ILR Wage Atlas for New York State was developed with data from two sources: (1) The MIT Living Wage Calculator; and (2) The U.S. Census Five-Year American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS). The MIT Living Wage calculator uses geographically specific data on the costs of basic necessities to calculate a living wage appropriate to different household compositions (i.e., single parent with one child, two parents with two children, etc.).
Read the full Policy Brief here: Raising the Minimum Wage: The Impact on Women, People of Color, and Immigrants in Western New York.