Mayor Bloomberg's third term began badly for middle class New Yorkers. Twelve thousand families fell into poverty over the past year, a four percent increase. The number of food stamp recipients in the city is up by 15 percent, and the number of families staying in homeless shelters is up 13 percent over a year ago.
Too many New Yorkers are still unemployed, and for those that have full-time jobs, one-in-three make less than $29,000 a year. These New Yorkers might be able to hail a cab in the outer boroughs now, but they won't be able to afford the fare.
For middle class families, the economic outlook is dim:
• 356,000 New Yorkers are still unemployed.
• Nearly one-in-four families have incomes less than $25,000 a year.
• Even among those working full time, 30% have earnings below $30,000.
Mayor Bloomberg boasts of economic recovery in New York City, but clearly he doesn't understand the tremendous challenges that ordinary New Yorkers are facing. Too many of the city's new jobs are low-paying jobs, and the cost of living in the city is only going up.
On immigration and infrastructure investments, the mayor had the right message. But more needs to be done to help working families that can no longer get by with poverty-level wages.
The mayor should reconsider his stance on living wage legislation currently in City Hall. This law would begin to boost wages for low-income New Yorkers, which would stimulate the economy.
The mayor also refused to raise taxes on the city's wealthiest one percent of New Yorkers who now take home 44 percent of all income earned in the city.