Dem Doldrums in Gotham

By Theodore Hamm
October 21, 2009

The unemployment rate in New York City is higher than 10 percent, exceeding the national average. Each week finds more families entering the city’s homeless shelter system, and the city’s once-mighty manufacturing sector has shrunk to a paltry 2 percent of the job market. Such indicators suggest that the future of the city’s economy should be at the forefront of the mayor’s race. Democrats should be troubled that it is not…

There are plenty of ideas out there that Thompson could spotlight. Earlier this year, a progressive coalition of unions, immigrants’ rights groups and think tanks issued a blueprint called “One City, One Future.” Given that the “finance sector is likely to emerge from the current meltdown much smaller in scale,” the report calls for building up other components of the local economy.

Many of its recommendations center around a living wage, which would give service-sector workers a much-needed pay boost. Though he signed a wage increase for healthcare workers in his first term, Bloomberg does not support full-scale local living-wage legislation, arguing that hikes should be handled at the state and federal levels–which ignores New York City’s high cost of living. Thompson–despite being endorsed by the Working Families Party, a key player in the One City coalition–has not made such legislation a centerpiece of his campaign.

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