Minimum wage set to rise in New York

ALBANY — New York state’s minimum-wage increase will take effect Monday, Dec. 31, rising to $11.10 an hour for workers in the North Country.

The current minimum pay in this area is $10.40.

As part of the 2016-17 budget, $15 minimum-wage legislation was passed. But because of outcry from businesses across the state, it included a phase-in of higher wages and varied rates for different areas.

The minimum wage will be $15 for large employers in New York City starting Monday.

North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said the differentiation between upstate and downstate wage mandates was a necessity.

“We need to be wary of potential efforts over the next couple of years to undermine this recognition of the economic differences between places like the North Country and Manhattan,” he said.

‘Fair wages’

“With the historic increase in the minimum wage, New York continues to set a national example in the fight for economic justice,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release.

“In New York, we believe in a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and are proud to be stepping up for hardworking families and making a real difference in the lives of New Yorkers.

“We won’t stop until every New Yorker is paid the fair wages they deserve.”

But Douglas said those “fair wages” aren’t without a price.

“The unintended consequence of the continued upward movement of the mandated minimum wage is the slow loss of many jobs,” Douglas said. “Especially at small businesses who cannot absorb or pass along the higher cost.”

Slower increase

While New York City, Long Island and some other areas are moving toward $15 at a faster clip, all other areas of the state are scheduled for a slower climb.

In those regions, including Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties, the minimum wage rose to $9.70 at the end of 2016 and then is scheduled to increase another 70 cents each year.

It will be $11.10 starting Monday and then will reach $12.50 on Dec. 31, 2020.

After that, the plan is for the minimum wage to continue to increase to $15 “on an indexed schedule to be set by the director of the Division of Budget in consultation with the Department of Labor,” the Governor’s Office said.

Mostly higher

Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO James “Jim” McKenna said that after hearing from a half a dozen or so businesses that they work with, he doesn’t see the nearing wage increase impacting his area too harshly.

McKenna said his office spoke with a mix of lodging, restaurant and retail businesses about the impending change.

“The feedback we got is that just about everybody is above that level at this current time,” McKenna said.

“They are starting people usually between $11 and $12 now.”

As for their take on the eventual wage increase to $12.50 per hour in December 2020, McKenna isn’t sure if the businesses are thinking that far ahead.

For the time being, he suspects the minimum-wage increase will be a positive change for employees.

Urban rates

The minimum wage is also increasing in major urban areas around New York, though at a faster and higher rate than in this area.

In New York City, businesses that employ 11 or more people will see the minimum pay rise Monday from $13 to $15.

Employers of 10 or fewer people in that city will bump from paying $12 an hour to $13.50 next Monday. On Dec. 31, 2019, they will have to start paying a minimum of $15.

Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk counties) and Westchester County are on a different schedule as well.

There, the minimum wage increases from the current $11 to $12 on Monday, $13 on Dec. 31, 2019, $14 on Dec. 31, 2020, and reached $15 in 2021.

Spreading the word

The state plans a public-education campaign that includes TV, digital, radio, and subway ads.

“The campaign reminds New Yorkers that all minimum-wage workers across the state will receive a raise on Dec. 31 and educates them about the steps they should take if they do not receive their raises,” the release said.

A Wage Theft Hotline — 1-888-4-NYSDOL — has been established by the Department of Labor for workers to report employers who are not complying with the increase.

Some service workers, including wait staff who can receive tips, are exempted from the wage mandate.

Learn more

More information is available at www.ny.gov/minimumwage.

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