A forum was held Wednesday at the CUNY Murphy Institute on a new report by United New York and the Center for Popular Democracy that recommends increasing the city's minimum wage to $10 an hour.
It also calls for earned sick leave, schedule predictability, and passing legislation that allows the city to adjust its own minimum wage above that of the state.
The report focused mostly on service industry jobs.
"This is a moment in New York City where we can finally demand that this be a city that stands up for low-wage workers and doesn't shy away from that role," said Deborah Axt of Make the Road New York.
"If we are to maintain our progressive reputation as the bright shining star, then New York City really needs to claim a lot of the recommendations that came out of this forum here today," said City Councilwoman Letitia James, whose district covers part of Brooklyn.
The report said that the city's unemployment rate rose from 5 to 10 percent since 2007, while its homeless population has doubled since 1992.
It also found that real median income is down $3,000 since 2008.