Last night at a mayoral forum about poverty, City comptroller and mayoral candidate John Liu suggested a dramatic 60% increase of the minimum wage. "In New York City, we need a minimum wage of 11.50 an hour," Liu said. Of course, the crowd gathered roared with approval, Dana Rubenstein reports.
"Let me tell you something," said Liu. "Nine dollars buys you a lot more in Buffalo than it does in Brooklyn or the Bronx."
At last night's mayoral forum sponsored by, among others, the building workers union 32BJ, and the anti-poverty Community Service Society, Liu was the only candidate to outflank every other public official in the country.
Bill de Blasio, Christine Quinn, Adolfo Carrion, Sal Albanese and Tom Allon all said they supported a $9 minimum wage instead. "I also think we have to make sure there's the maximum number of jobs available for people," explained de Blasio. "We have 9 percent unemployment in this city." In which Liu responded: "Every time there's an increase in minimum wage, people claim that jobs are going to be lost," he said. "Sometimes there's a dip but it catches up eventually and it doesn't take that long to catch up. And my plan calls for a phase-in to $11.50 over a period of four to five years so that the pain is not immediately felt by some of the business owners, but the small business owners are the ones that have the kind of customer base that in many cases are making the minimum wage, so the multiplier effects … from raising the minimum wage to the right level is going to yield enormous benefits."
"If the minimum wage in this country had kept up with pace of inflation, it should be $10.58 an hour right now," he added.
Right now, the state's minimum wage is set at $7.25. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver called for a hike to $8.50, followed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who said it should be raised to $8.75. President Obama in his State of the Union speech last month, called for raising the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.