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NYPIRG Seeks $7 Hourly Minimum Wage

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – A new county-by-county minimum wage study has been released by the labor-funded Fiscal Policy Institute. It finds that one out of six minimum wage earners in Erie and Niagara Counties would directly benefit if the minimum wage was increased to $7 per hour.

The New York Public Interest Research Group calls the current $5.15 an hour minimum wage "disgraceful." Local NYPIRG spokeswoman Mary Carney says more than 38,000 workers in Erie County are earning below $7 an hour.

Carney says NYPIRG will be calling on the State Legislature to pass a minimum wage bill this year. She says they will specifically lobby Western New York Senator Mary Lou Rath who voted against it the last time around.

Carney says business owners who would fear an increase would hurt them economically should refer to the Fiscal Policy study.

"The great thing about the Fiscal Policy Institute report is it shows the minimum wage increase would not negatively affect the economy. In states that have passed the increase, they nave not seen job losses or small businesses hurt," Carney said. "In fact, the hike actually benefits the economy by reducing the costs a lot of business have to pay for a high turnover workforce."

NYPIRG says a minimum wage increase would benefit well over one million New Yorkers, especially women, minorities and immigrants.

There are already 12 states and the District of Columbia that have higher minimum wages than New York. The state hasn't raised the minimum wage since 1997.