Higher Wages vs. Less Jobs - Which Do You Prefer?

by Vault Careers | October 06, 2011

  • My Vault

Is it more important for those with jobs to make more money or is it more important to create more jobs that might pay a little less money?  That’s an interesting question that seems to be the issues around a new bill that requires a pay increase for a number of employees working in New York City. 

The bill, put forward by Councilman G. Oliver Koppell and Councilwoman Annabel Palma, both of the Bronx, would force city-subsidized companies that receive at least $1 million to pay their employees a base wage of $10 an hour plus benefits or $11.50 an hour without benefits.  That’s a lot of money an hour when you consider that minimum wage in NYC is $7.25 an hour, although the actual increase would be about $1.66 for 34,000 to 62,000 workers, according to one study. 

The study, which was authored by the Charles River Associates consulting firm and released by the Mayor Michael Bloomberg administration, really takes this bill to task projecting that a large percentage of retail development projects would not go forward, resulting in the lost of anywhere between 6,000 and 13,000 “low-skilled jobs.”  Over time, even more jobs could be lost. 

Opponents of the study, which includes a majority of City Council members, labor leaders, and community activists, among others, who believe the wage increase is an important step to battling a poverty rate in New York City that has risen to 20%. 

Proponents of the study note that there has been a 2.2% decrease in employment amongst these “low-skilled workers” in cities where similar policies were adopted.  A fight in the Bronx over a mall that was to be built in a largely unused armory building, revolved around demands that those who worked on the project receive a living wage of $10 an hour.  As a result, the project was scrapped resulting in the loss of a large number of retail jobs that would have resulted from the mall’s construction. 

How would you approach this issue?  When I was unemployed and my bills went up, I looked for things to cut to make up for the loss.  HBO, Showtime and Cinemax went out the window.  Restaurants I frequented often no longer received my business.  More expensive wine was replaced by Two-Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s.  Even when they increased my Netflix subscription, I found a way to off-set the costs.  It’s the same philosophy.  Faced with higher costs, companies might choose to halt work on a project if they consider it cost prohibitive.  At the same time, they could also hire less workers to off-set the increased wages they face.  Those who know how to make money know how to save money and it usually means finding ways to spend less or passing on the costs to the lower-class.  That said, it stands to reason that forcing employers to pay more would be off-set in some way,

But should hard-working people continue to sacrifice just because the economy is still faltering?  Should they continue to make less money in the hopes that their sacrifice will lead to the creation of more jobs, which would lead to a better economy and more money-making opportunities in the future?  By seeking more money, are they inadvertently hurting the economy?  In a world, where you need to take what you can get now, because it might not be there in the future, can you really blame workers for wanting more?  What do you think?  Let us know

--Jon Minners, Vault.com

Filed Under: Workplace Issues

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