Increases in Unemployment Insurance and Minimum Wage Highlight Labor's Success in the State Budget

Low wage workers make significant inroads in addressing years of income inequality

ALBANY, NY (03/29/2013)(readMedia)-- The following statement was issued by Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO:

The Labor Movement is pleased that we have achieved increases in unemployment insurance and the minimum wage in this year's budget. After 14 years since the last increase in unemployment benefits and over 6 years of an essentially flat minimum wage, Albany has finally answered the call of New York's hard working families, and begun to address the issue of rampant income inequality.

A staggering 40% of recipients will see an increase in their unemployment insurance through a raise in the woefully inadequate benefit cap. This will keep families in their homes and provide for basic necessities, allowing workers to focus on finding a new job. In addition, by setting forth several annual increases and taking the historic step of indexing the maximum benefit in the future, we have ensured that never again will our state's benefit fall to its current last in the nation status in terms of wage replacement.

Low wage workers in particular, the majority of whom are adults, and many of whom have families, won significant improvements in this budget including a 24% increase in the minimum wage, a 56% increase in the minimum unemployment benefit, and a 50% boost in the minimum workers' compensation benefit. This progress will make a real difference in the lives of workers and their families.

We thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership, particularly on the issue of Unemployment Insurance, and Speaker Silver for leading the charge on the minimum wage. We look forward to working with them, Senators Skelos and Klein, and members of their respective conferences to finish the job for New York's hard working families this session.


The New York State AFL-CIO is a federation of 3,000 affiliated public sector, private sector, and building trades unions throughout the state representing 2.5 million members, retirees and their families. Our State Federation, which is the largest and most diverse in the country, is committed to helping working families achieve a better life. For more information on the Labor Movement in New York, visit