Why New York City?

More than two in five New York City households — over 940,000 households, representing 2.7 million people — don’t have enough income to cover the basic necessities such as food, shelter, health care, and child care, according to the 2014 edition of the Self-Sufficiency Standard for NYC produced by the Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement. This is unacceptable. As people of faith from diverse traditions, we all believe that each human being is of infinite, precious, irreducible value—and that it is the duty of all to treat each person in a manner that befits this vision of universal equality.

● A job should keep you out of poverty not keep you in it. One third of New Yorkers work in
low-wage jobs that keep them and their families struggling to cover their basic expenses.
Ensuring living wages for the city’s low-wage workforce is critical for fighting poverty and
rebuilding New York’s middle class.

● The vast majority of New York’s low-wage workers are adults. Almost half work in the retail and hospitality industries, including in restaurants. Of the 940,000households who are not self-sufficient, 83% have one or more members who are working. NYC has an income inadequacy rate that is even higher than that of Mississippi.

● Poverty wage jobs hurt all of us. When working people aren’t making enough at their jobs, we all lose. We lose additional tax dollars to pay for public assistance — food, housing and health care — for these workers and their families. And when workers don’t have money to purchase goods and services in the community, it stifles our economy.

● Paying a living wage is a win-win. It’s good for working families. It’s good for businesses
that will benefit from New Yorkers with increased purchasing power, and it will result in
higher employee satisfaction and less turnover, which is good for employer and employee

● $20.00 per hour is a Real Living Wage for NYC. It will allow most households where the
adult(s) are working full-time (40 hour per week—not more!) to meet their basic needs.1

The Standard represents the amount of income a family needs to pay for necessities without reliance on public or private subsidies. It is much higher than the federal poverty line but is far from what could be considered a “middle class” standard of living, for example, it does not include any allowance for college or retirement savings, or saving to buy a home. Saving for college is critical to upward mobility and buying a home is the main way most families build assets.

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