NORWICH – In response to Democrat Assemblyman Sheldon Silver’s proposal to increase New York State minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $8.50, opinions differ among many city employers and workers regarding the impact it would have locally.
While city area employers said they can see both sides of the argument, opinions of the overall effectiveness that a wage increase will have in stimulating the economy vary. According to the U.S. Census Bureau website, 19.5 percent of the city’s population was at or below poverty level in 2010. This is higher than the 14.2 percent state poverty rate, and the national rate of 13.8 percent – observations that are fueling many legislators to follow up on Silver’s proposition and getting mixed feedback in the area.
Human Resources Director for the City of Norwich Deborah Deforest said raising pay for the 40 minimum wage employees who work for the city would have pros and cons from a business standpoint alone. While on one hand, it would be easier to recruit new employees, she said, there are also concerns about rising costs that are contingent on employee wages, including benefits and retirement. Perhaps the biggest obstacle, she added, would be the diminishing pay gap between experienced workers and newly hired employees.