The Fight for $15 has swept the nation as a rally-turned-movement to raise the wages of workers across the country. The goal of the Fight for $15 is to combat the gap between the minimum wage and the cost of living which creates a growing population of working poor. This increase is needed to improve the lives of thousands of New Yorkers who struggle to provide for their households, even as full time workers.
The lack of a living wage has increased the need for human services as New Yorkers try to make ends meet. More people are coming through the doors of our agencies every day. Many of our programs help New Yorkers reach self-sufficiency by teaching job training skills, helping people find employment, or providing job supports like child-care. However, the gains from these programs are lost when thousands of jobs across New York do not pay a living wage. In addition, years of flat funding by government agencies have left the human services sector hard pressed to keep up with the increased demand of providing for those in need.
HSC came out on the April 15 Day of Action in support of the Fight for $15 because we know that a living wage for New Yorkers would transform our neighborhoods and our City. A new report released by Comptroller Scott Stringer stresses the impact this will have on both workers and businesses. His report found that raising the minimum wage to $15 per-hour in New York City by 2019 would boost wages by $10 billion a year and benefit nearly 1.5 million workers in the City. This boost would also increase household spending, decrease the amount spent on individuals who are eligible for Food Stamps and Medicaid by $200 to $500 million annually, and increase the amount of taxes collected by the City.
The importance of having living wage jobs in our communities cannot be overlooked. Mayor de Blasio has released his OneNYC plan with the goal of lifting 800,000 people out of poverty by 2025. A report by the Center for Economic Opportunity shows that increasing the minimum wage to $15 per-hour will be important to helping him meet his goal. Raising the minimum wage would mean a better way of living in New York City and make it easier for employees to provide for themselves and their families. The Fight for $15 Rally brings us closer to that goal.
Contributed by Jovonne Cameron of the Human Services Council