Minimum wage hike fails to meet mark for Long Island workers


528188_4120542910739_2032819161_nBy Theresa Tudisco
The New York Legislature approved a $135 billion budget last March, and minimum wage workers throughout the state are seeing results. Since this budget was approved, the minimum wage was $7.25 an hour and will increase over three years. As of December 31 of 2013, minimum wage increased to $8.00 and after December 31, 2014 the hourly wage will go up to $8.75. On the third year, 2015, minimum wage will reach its highest, ever seen in New York, to $9 per hour.

“I have yet to receive my first pay check, but it should be a generous amount. Greater than what I was expecting to earn bi-weekly. My hours are the same as I’ve scheduled them, and with the expansion at work my employers have actually been hiring more people. College expenses have been the same as always, but with the hourly increase, it helps me out a lot more than it did,” said Kevin Smith, English major, who was one of many whose hourly wage has increased to $8.

The $135 billion budget included $1.23 billion in tax cuts to middle-class families over three years. The financial statement states that in 2014, families whose incomes are between $40,000 and $300,000 are qualified for a tax credit of $350 who have a child 17 years of age or younger. “The credits will be paid for, in part, by an extension of a tax surcharge on couples earning more than $2 million annually, the “millionaires tax,” which had been scheduled expire next year. This tax raises about $2 billion annually,” stated UPI.com: World News.

“On LI the minimum wage of $8 really does not hold. Most teens are paid $8 or above. More people want a “Living Wage”. A “Living Wage” is just a higher minimum wage. Most economists are against the minimum wage. They rather help poor people with tax credits or direct subsidies. Raising the minimum wage is another matter. Increasing it to $8.50 or $9.00 probably will not result in many lost jobs on LI or probably in other parts of the country,” said John Bockino, professor of social sciences and economics on the Ammerman campus.

According to the New York State Department of Labor, employees who work a split shift or a shift that extends over 10 hours are entitled to 1 hour of pay at the minimum wage rate. The overtime rate of pay will remain 1 1/2 times the employee’s regular rate of pay. For employees earning a living on cash wage less than the minimum wage of $8, the overtime rate is always time and a half minus the tip credit.

“If people do not have sufficient money for food they will never be able to afford goods and services no matter how low the prices. If people do not buy said goods and services, business suffers,” said Professor Andrew J. Monahan, Ammerman campus adjunct instructor.

In addressing why he believes the minimum wage is insufficient, Monahan said, “I live reasonably close to Manhattan, about 25 miles. If I were to take the bus to the train station, the train to Manhattan, and then the subway to work, I would incur commuting costs of $34 per day. A decent wage in retail is about $12/hour. This translates to $96/day. If you subtract a conservative 25 percent in Federal, State, and NYC tax, your take home is $72/day minus commuting costs of $34 and you are left with $38/day or $190/week. This translates to $760/month. One cannot afford living accommodations, let alone food and other necessities with that amount.”

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