City Comptroller Brad Lander joined Errol Louis on “Inside City Hall” Monday night to discuss minimum wage, jobs and the migrant crisis.
Lander says that minimum wage should be increased so workers can keep up with rising inflation.
“The minimum wage for New York City reached $15 in 2019, but today, that will only buy you $13.38 because rent and food prices and energy prices have gone up,” Lander said. “We have to raise the minimum wage just to get back to it. And then yes, hopefully index it to inflation so you don’t have to go back to the legislature every time.”
In his newest economic report, Lander took a detailed look into two proposals on raising the minimum wage that are up for consideration in Albany this year.
The first comes from Gov. Kathy Hochul’s budget proposal, which would link the current minimum wage levels to inflation, with limitations like a 3% cap.
“Last year, inflation was at 6%. So if inflation is 6% and your increase is capped at 3%, you are not keeping up with rising costs,” Lander said.
The alternative proposal, Raise Up New York, is sponsored by state Sen. Jessica Ramos and state Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner.
It proposes first increasing the minimum wage, and then linking it to inflation plus labor productivity.
“Adding in labor productivity is saying we look at the economy and when productivity grows — that’s the output per worker — let’s make sure some of that is shared with our low-wage workers,” Lander said.
Lander thinks either proposal would profoundly impact New Yorkers, allowing minimum-wage workers to better afford living in the city.
“As prices are going up, you want to keep family purchasing power, especially for low-income and working-class families,” Lander said.
In regards to jobs, Lander says that while jobs creation is improving in the United States, the city is lagging behind.
“Yes, our unemployment rate is still basically twice the nation’s, and for black New Yorkers, twice that,” Lander said. “We need significant investments in the things that help folks connect to work.”
In Monday’s interview, Lander also discussed the migrant crisis, calling on the state and federal government to help the city support asylum seekers entering the city.
“We need help covering the costs, like there’s no doubt,” Lander said. “We’re likely to spend as much as $4 billion over this year and next. We didn’t budget for it and we need a significant share of it from the state and the federal government.”