New York State Minimum Wage to Increase in Years to Come

As of Dec. 31, 2016, the minimum wage standard has increased to up to $15 an hour statewide. The initiative has been stated as the major priority of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2016 Built to Lead Agenda.

Minimum wage rates remain to be under $15, as businesses are given time to adjust to the pay raise. Series of wage increases are slated to begin as the fiscal year progresses. 

As stated on the governor’s website explaining the increase, New York City will see raises of $2 per year, reaching $15 an hour by 2019. The rest of New York will see increases of $1 per year, with the minimum wage at $15 by 2021.

According to the New York Department of Labor, the current minimum wage hourly rates are dependent upon region and sector of the state. In the metropolitan area, large employers must pay their employees $11 an hour and small employers are to pay $10.50. On Long Island and Westchester County, the minimum wage is $10 an hour with the remainder of New York State requiring $9.70 an hour. 

This action is an extension of Cuomo’s decision in September of 2015 to raise the wage of fast-food workers to $15 an hour by 2018 in New York City and July 2021 in the rest of New York State. 

 “The economic effects of minimum wage small increases aggregate affects a differential consensus,” Jeff Miller, political science professor and department chair, said. “It is definitely a prudent idea to phase it in gradually.”

Although it may be to the confusion of some businesses, Miller emphasized the importance of the continuation of dividing minimum wage rates by sector in New York State. The cost of living in a worker’s given region should directly affect how much they get paid, depending upon factors such as cost of rent, Miller said. 

“People in the lower brackets of the economy who hold minimum wage paying jobs will likely take that $3 or $4 extra and spend it, putting it back into the local economy,” Miller said. 

As the initiative anticipates, the impact of raising the minimum wage will lead to an estimated $15.7 billion of direct economic gains once fully implemented. 

Marc Schain, CPA of Schain and Company and small business owner said that he supports the minimum wage increase, but has some reservations about a possible drastic increase for small business owners.

 “This can possibly provide a hardship for certain employers to move drastically upward shooting for $15,” Schain said. “If it is slated to have a phase in, I would be supportive of that.”

In regards to the differing economic needs of areas in New York State, Schain said certain areas should have some modifications so that they can continue to grow at a steady rate, rather than a drastic increase that may shake the economic foundation. 

“Some small business in more depressed areas perhaps should have the option of modifying the minimum wage,” Schain said. “As you go towards the more north-west part of the state you may see areas like this.”

From Schain’s vantage point, the New Paltz small business is flourishing and continues to benefit from the built-in revenue source that SUNY New Paltz provides; the stores and shops in the village and town directly meet the needs of college students, therefore creating an active consumer-producer relationship.        

“The restaurants, bars and stores are frequented by not only students but visitors of the village,” Schaine said. “Every person has needs that are met in the parameters of New Paltz.”

The minimum wage increase, although met with some dissent and disagreement, is still slated by many to improve local economy.