On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation raising the living wage in New York City to $13.13 per hour, and that's a good thing. No grown adult in this city should be expected to work for less than $12 per hour, and while the increased wages will have their consequences they represent an acceptance of modern reality by the administration.
And before people start fretting over the detrimental effects this will have on small businesses, the law only applies to employees who work for companies that receive subsidies from the city, so it's only right that more of that money should go to the employees. In fact, they already make $11.90 per hour, so it's not a huge jump.
Still, the new law doesn't go far enough. As stated before, only workers who don't receive benefits and are employed by commercial tenants receiving a minimum of $1 million in city subsidies will be affected. A similar living wage law was passed by the mayor's office in 2012, and only applied to 1,200 jobs once exemptions were taken into account.
So we are reasonably cautious about celebrating this latest push to raise wages despite projections that roughly 18,000 employees will receive a boost. Now, if the mayor succeeds in tying the minimum wage to the living wage through legislation as he plans to do, there will be much more cause for celebration.
With the cost of living on a galloping rise across the city, the need to establish income minimums that allow residents to hold on to what they've got is more pronounced than ever. We hope this new living wage law will be at least as effective as the administration projections suggest, and that it will spark the movement to reduce the rate of income inequality at the root of so many of our current economic woes.
Because let's face it, until we're all doing alright, nobody's doing great.