A political economist isn't surprised that a state board upheld New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's decision to raise wages for fast-food workers.
On Wednesday, a state oversight board upheld the decision by Governor Cuomo's administration to gradually raise the hourly minimum wage to $15 for many fast-food workers. Those workers in New York City will be the first ones to get higher pay, with others in other New York municipalities scheduled to benefit in the coming years.
Jared Meyer, fellow for the Manhattan Institute and Economics 21, comments that Cuomo worked a system that made the decision permissible.
"I think that it was expected because under New York State law the governor is able to call wage board into action and they're able to take factors into account - and if they really have any rational basis, which is a very low standard for trying to increase wages in a particular industry, they're allowed to,” he explains.
“So I'm not surprised that the board upheld Cuomo's move, but that doesn't change the fact that it's undemocratic, really unfair in signaling out specific parts of a certain industry and destructive towards New York State's economy, especially in upstate. "
According to Meyer, upstate cities like Utica and Binghamton have median hourly wages that are "barely over $15 an hour." Governor Cuomo, meanwhile, has pushed for a $15 minimum wage for all industries.
Cuomo remarked to an audience in September:
"If fast-food workers deserve $15 an hour, construction workers deserve $15 an hour, and home healthcare aides deserve $15 an hour, and taxi cab drivers deserve $15 an hour… Every working man and woman in the state of New York deserves $15 an hour minimum wage, and we're not going to stop until we get it done."
Cuomo had pushed for a much lower minimum wage prior to September. Regardless of how high a minimum wage the governor advocates, Meyer maintains that it's more for political reasons than economic reasons.