“How is the minimum wage increase impacting your workforce?” and “What policy changes are necessary for your business to adapt to the increasing minimum wage?” were among the questions explored by a panel of business and human resource leaders on February 14. The convening, co-sponsored by the Field Building Hub and the New School Center for New York City Affairs, attracted more than 100 workforce professionals, policy experts, researchers, and others interested in hearing how businesses are adapting to the minimum wage increase taking place in New York City.
Moderated by Civic Hall Founder and CEO, Andrew Rasiej, the panel provided insights on some of the unique and similar experiences of businesses in healthcare, retail, security, and the nonprofit sector. While Ulanda Garrett, a Recruiter for security firm AlliedUniversal, indicated that her company still has the ability to pass some of the costs related to the increasing minimum wage on to its clients, Adria Powell, President of Cooperate Home Care Associates, spoke in detail about the dependence in healthcare on third party payer systems, such as Medicaid, that barely cover all relevant costs of care as is. A third panelist, Katy Gaul-Stigge, said labor accounts for up to 75 percent of the costs at each Goodwill Thrift Store location, making limited the ability to cut other expenses as the wage rises.
Audience questions pointed to future research topics, including impacts of the wage increase on specific populations such as young adults; the role unions have and can play in advocating for relevant policy changes; the relationship between a higher minimum wage and employee turnover; and whether access to social benefits, such as child care and food subsidies, will be significantly affected by a rising minimum wage. Dr. James Parrott, Director of Economic & Fiscal Policy at the New School Center for NYC Affairs, shared some recent data relevant to these questions and indicated where further research and monitoring over time will be necessary.
The Hub values the opportunity to bring together a diverse audience around a timely and important topic, such as the minimum wage increase. We appreciate the rich conversation and honest appraisal shared by the event’s moderator and panelists; engaged and attentive audience; and energetic questions and conversations filling the room post-convening. Insights from the panelists will be incorporated in the fourth Monitoring the Minimum Wage brief, to be released Spring 2018.