Earlier this week I testified at an Assembly Hearing on Minimum Wage .  I get it. Raising the minimum wage is a noble idea.  People should be able to work for a living, and live off of their work.  But while the idea is noble, it is also flawed.  We cannot help some individuals while at the same time sacrificing others.  Increasing costs on small businesses, especially in the current economy, without addressing the structural costs drivers that make our state undesirable for economic investment, does far more harm than good.

Raising the minimum wage will not only harm business owners, but the people they employee, and everyday consumers.  By raising one cost to employers we raise others.  When the minimum wage goes up so to do the cost of the goods and services those employers and workers provide.  The only number that will decrease is the number of available jobs.  Instead of having more people making more money we’ll have more people making no money at all.

New York is currently ranked by the Tax Foundation as the 49th worst business tax climate in the entire country.  Minimum wage will do nothing to rectify this problem.  Only two other states currently have minimum wages set at $8.50 or above.  Neither of those states is on the east coast.  So, when it comes to having a competitive advantage compared to surrounding states New York would no longer even come close. 

The last time minimum wage was increase employment for 16-29 year olds without a college degree dropped by 26%.  We do not need another such drop in this economy.  There are other places we can start to fix our regulatory environment and stabilize our economy so a minimum wage increase could be feasible.  Let’s look at the Scaffold Law, Unemployment Insurance, and Workers Compensation, just to name a few.  If employers are not burdened by mandates and regulations then they will have more available money to pass to employees, with or without a state mandated wage increase. 

New York is still feeling the effects of the most recent recession.  What we need to worry about right now is recovery and job creation.  Minimum wage will only increase the burden on small businesses and further hinder their ability to create jobs and revitalize our economy.  We need our unemployment numbers to go down, not up.  We need to keep goods and services affordable.  We need to keep businesses open.

As our friend and colleague Mike Durant from NFIB put it yesterday, “NFIB remains disappointed by the few business groups that continuously advocate for a compromise on the minimum wage debate.  Increasing costs on New York’s small businesses in this economy, without fully addressing the numerous structural cost drivers that make our State undesirable for economic investment, is without merit.  NFIB strongly urges Senate Majority Leader Skelos, Governor Cuomo and the other proponents of small business in the legislature to stay the course and resist increasing the cost burden on small businesses and further stifling their ability to create jobs and revitalize our stagnant economy.” 

We couldn’t agree more.