As the leading business advocacy organization in Niagara County, the Niagara USA Chamber feels compelled to voice its opposition to Governor Cuomo’s minimum wage increase. Upstate New York is still feeling the effects of the recession and as such has experienced a slower economic recovery. A 67 percent wage increase would have a devastating effect on some of the industries that make up a large portion of Niagara County’s business sector. Retail, hospitality, and agriculture will all be negatively impacted.
In this global economy, businesses within a confined marketplace could not absorb a wage increase and still remain competitive. This will lead to cost reduction measures such as a decrease in hiring, increased automation and the possibility of some business leaving the marketplace either by relocating to other states or simply closing their doors. In effect, the sharp increase in the minimum wage would negatively affect the lower wage earners it is supposedly seeking to help.
At a time when the Western New York region is seeing significant investment in an attempt to jump start Upstate’s economy now is not the right time it to raise the minimum wage. As New York tries to rise from the bottom of many economic rankings throughout the country, applying a higher minimum wage than almost all other states places the business climate at a disadvantage.
The reality is that many businesses will not be able to absorb a sharp increase in the minimum wage. The region will be put at a competitive disadvantage and many businesses will have to make difficult decisions regarding employment levels, remaining in New York, or even staying in business. Therefore, the Niagara USA Chamber cannot support the minimum wage increase.