Opinion: Raising minimum wage in New York

Most little girls grow up dreaming of the day when they will fall in love for the first time.

They fantasize about the butterflies that will leap from their stomachs to their throats, leaving them breathless and their cheeks flushed.

I still remember the first time my stomach turned upside down with that love. It was the day I fell in love with Manhattan, one of the five boroughs that make up New York City.

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I vowed to myself I would one day reside in the magical land where horse drawn carriages existed, within Central Park, and fairy godmothers were the fashionable women of the Upper East Side.

With Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw as my tour guide, I grew up expecting a columnist, like Bradshaw, to not only be able to afford a classy apartment in Manhattan proper, but be able to strut the city in Manolos and come home to another hundred pairs neatly tucked away in my closet.

My career goals were set. I wanted to be a sporty Carrie Bradshaw with a Samantha Jones’ outlook on life.

Carrie, you gave me false hope. While I still fall asleep to reruns of Sex and the City nearly every night, I have gained a bit more perspective on the financial realities of living in the city I love.

I’m not the only one who has concerns about being able to survive in the most expensive city in the United States. For years, labor protestors have been demanding a pay that is more congruent with the financial demands of the New York lifestyle.

On Wednesday, a panel appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggested that minimum wage in New York be raised from $8.75 to $15 an hour for employees of the fast food industry.

This change would translate to about $30,000 a year.

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Listen to this. To live in a studio apartment in Manhattan, I would have to pay $3,000 per month or $36,000 per year.

Now, as a Bay Area native, I am no stranger to outrageous living prices. Sure, residing in Oregon for college and having no sales tax has spoiled me a bit. However, I have not lost sight of just how expensive the cost of living is. So, this raise in minimum wage needs to be put into perspective.

How much more affordable does a $15 minimum wage make the most expensive city in the U.S.? Not a whole lot.

In Idaho, a $15 minimum wage could mean buying a 3-bedroom apartment and ten meals per week. In New York,  the new wage makes it so that workers will not have to rely on food stamps.

Still, a yearly income that is less than yearly rent doesn’t leave much room for leisure, with the average cost of a T-Bone steak being $12.75 and a cup of coffee costing over $6.

The new minimum wage has not yet gotten the official approval from the Governor’s office, but it is anticipated that it will.

Regardless, I still plan to move to Manhattan.

While I prefer the Manhattan depicted by Sex and the City where a writer’s salary can afford a closet of couture and a view of the Upper West Side, I may have to get a job at Zabar’s as I launch my career as a journalist in the city that never sleeps.

But do not worry Carrie, I will still be wearing Manolos.