Mike Bloomberg: Remember, It Costs Money to Pay A Living Wage

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In his weekly radio show, Mayor Mike Bloomberg took the opportunity to remind everyone that he's not the biggest fan of a living wage bill. It's been one of the hot-button political issues this month that put City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in a bit of a pickle. Basically, Quinn, a mayoral hopeful, needed to please folks with completely opposite views and tried to do so with this compromise: a bill that would require higher wages at city-subsidized developments ($10 an hour plus benefits, instead of the current $7.25 minimum hourly wage). The compromise was that direct employees of tax-break recipients would receive the higher wage -- but not their tenants.

She was navigating the competing interests of those who want higher wages (unions) and those who worry it would hurt businesses and cost the city jobs (her friend, Mr. Bloomberg). She managed to announce the compromise with reps from both sides of the argument standing with her.

But apparently, Bloomberg is still pretty wary.

On his weekly show with John Gambling this morning (he was calling in from the road since he's on his way to Washington D.C. for a Mayors Conference), Bloomberg expressed some concern about the financial realities of the living wage bill, despite his support for raising the minimum wage in the city, which he discussed at his State of the City speech last week.

"Mr. Mayor, I know that the living wage bill is something that you don't think is a very good idea. City Council thinks otherwise, somewhat controversial...You talked about increasing the minimum wage. Is that sort of a step towards?" Gambling asked.

"No, I don't know that's a step towards..." said Bloomberg. "There are two issues when you talk about things like the minimum wage. One is the competitive issue -- if it's cheaper to do things elsewhere, companies will move and they'll move the jobs with them. And two, there is the absolute level of them, because if the workers don't generate enough revenue to cover their expenses, companies won't have them."

With something like the living wage, he said, "You could have young people not able to get jobs or losing jobs they already have." Bloomberg explained that the minimum wage in the city is the same as the federal minimum wage and that Massachusetts and Connecticut are higher. (Conventional wisdom, he said, is that New Jersey will use New York as cover to raise theirs.)

"I don't think we get hurt from a completive point of view. We are worried with this to make sure that kids who lose their jobs, we can help them." (A "small" raise is appropriate, though, he said!)

Still, he added, before he had to run off to his D.C. duties, "Once you start getting into picking who the minimum wage is applied to, then you've got something very different....The trouble is, well, we'll have it if somebody's in a building where the city or the state gave money to help build the building. Well, this raises the costs. You either have to give them more or they won't build. You just cannot replace the private sector with public sector saying we want people to get more, we don't want to pay for it, let's make somebody else for it. In the end, we all pay for it."

[SamTLevin / @SamTLevin]

Go to Runnin' Scared for all our latest news coverage.

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2 comments
ZengSoo
ZengSoo

No way man, that dude is like totally rocking it. I mean like wow. www.Total-Privacy dot US

Eco-man
Eco-man

    We are talking about a min wage here people.  If your business is not stable enough to pay $10.00/hr you probably will not last anyways so you might as well close the doors now because it is bound to happen soon. I have seen many business owners over extend the debt in their personal lives and expect hard working Americans to make up for it by paying them min wage. I have also seen other stable small businesses pay $12- $18/hr without any potential of failure whatsoever. I have also seen many business owner sit at home on the doing nothing  complaining they are not making any money. Well it is time to go to work, if you can't afford to pay someone a fair wage get up and do some of the work yourself. The thing that anger me the most about these post are most of the small business owner I know were not even entrepreneurs. Most of them were left a business, commercial property, inheritance or other real-estate that has made them money other the past decades. I find the odd when there is a large debate in our nation going on over entitlements. Many of these small business owners never went on to take business class in their life of even attempt to obtain a college degree. Maybe there business would do better if they could figure out a way to adapt to the times rather than just slash wages. I also see companies taking advantage of min. wage making lots of money and not paying their help. I see this happening a lot in the auto industry where customer are charged upwards of $100/hr for repairs and under the flat rate pay system auto technicians are making less than min wage many weeks. The owner on the other hand pull up in many different Mercedes,  Bentley's, BMW's,  with their own personal drivers. They own plenty of toys, real-estate and spend lavishly. This is not fair nor right and does nothing for our economy. Bottom line is Americans need to be paid fairly not just the ones that were lucky enough to be left a business or real-estate. Not just the ones who's fall into some niche whether it be family wealth of Gov. funded programs for a select few.

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