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$15 Minimum Wage a Big Plus for Immigrants

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Gov. Cuomo’s proposal would raise the minimum wage for all New Yorkers by mid 2021. (governorandrewcuomo/Flickr)
Gov. Cuomo’s proposal would raise the minimum wage for all New Yorkers by mid 2021. (governorandrewcuomo/Flickr)
March 25, 2016

NEW YORK – Raising New York's minimum wage to $15 an hour would be a real boon to immigrant workers, according to a new report. The Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI) says minimum-wage workers would see their annual income increase by almost $5,000.

David Dyssegaard Kallick, director of FPI's Immigrant Research Initiative, said that would affect some 3.2 million New Yorkers.

"That's 36 percent of all workers in the state, but 43 percent of immigrants," he said. "So, 1.1 million immigrants would get a raise if we go through with this groundbreaking and exciting proposal."

The report says on average, a minimum-wage immigrant worker's pay accounts for more than half their family's total income.

Opponents of the proposed increase have warned it would hurt small business and cause a loss of jobs. But Kallick noted that 30 percent of immigrants currently receiving minimum wage are the sole earners in their families.

"As people's wages go up, that also lifts families out of poverty, helps them to have a better footing," he said. "You would expect their kids to do better in school, and have a better chance of going to college."

Kallick added the research indicates small neighborhood businesses also would benefit by raising the wages of the lowest-paid workers.

"They're more likely to be spending it on food and groceries in local stores," he explained. "And so, we actually expect not a problem for local businesses, but a gain for small businesses in communities around the state."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal would raise the minimum wage for all New Yorkers to $15 an hour over the next five years.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY