Bill de Blasio calls for big boost in New York City's minimum wage

Mayor says that Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposals don't go far enough -- and Cuomo's office is firing back

Published February 4, 2015 4:12PM (EST)

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio          (AP/Seth Wenig)
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (AP/Seth Wenig)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday proposed raising the city's minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2016, a nearly 50 percent increase from the current minimum of $8.75 per hour.

Arguing that the current minimum is woefully inadequate in one of the country's costliest cities, the mayor also called for indexing the minimum wage, ensuring that it would rise in tandem with inflation and the cost of living.

“The current minimum wage proposal simply doesn’t do enough to help New York City," de Blasio said in his State of the City address. “That’s why we will fight to raise New York City’s minimum wage to more than $13 per hour in 2016, while indexing the minimum wage, which would bring us to a projected $15 per hour by 2019.”

Bill Lipton, director of the Working Families Party (WFP), a coalition of progressive and labor groups, lauded the proposal.

“We applaud Mayor de Blasio's leadership on raising the minimum wage to $15," Lipton said in a statement. "His proposal adds New York City to the growing list of cities, including Seattle and Chicago, that are taking action to lift working families out of poverty. The legislature should heed his call.”

Seattle last year became the first city in the nation to approve a $15 per hour minimum wage. San Francisco voters followed suit, approving a $15 minimum in a November referendum, while Chicago lawmakers voted in December to raise the city's minimum to $13 per hour. de Blasio is calling for New York catch up with those cities.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, by contrast, has proposed raising the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour, an increase de Blasio and progressives view as insufficient. The WFP responded to Cuomo's proposal by saying it would "help," but that it would still leave too many families earning subsistence wages.

Cuomo's office, however, gave de Blasio's proposal a chilly reception yesterday, calling it a "nonstarter" in the state legislature, which must sign off on any wage increase for the city.

By Luke Brinker

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