Some employees in New York will see a slight increase in their paychecks in the new year as the minimum hourly wage increases.
As scheduled, New York's minimum wage got a bump from $11.80 to $12.50 on Thursday, Dec. 31 for most of the state. The 70-cent an hour raise represents an extra $28 weekly for employees working full-time minimum wage jobs.
On Long Island and in Westchester County, the minimum wage rose to $14 an hour, while wages will stay steady in New York City at $15. The minimum wage in both those regions has been steadily on the rise for the past four years.
Another minimum wage bump is also planned for Dec. 31, 2021, across the state.
Some businesses had called for a delay in the wage hike due to the financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the state Department of Labor announced this week that it would be moving ahead with the plan unchanged.
"This investment in our workers once again proves that in New York we believe a fair day's work deserves a fair day’s pay," state Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said in a statement.
According to the Department of Labor, before the COVID-19 pandemic, New York’s unemployment rate had fallen to 3.7 percent, its lowest level in the history of the current series of minimum raise hikes, which they said implies that the minimum wage increases have had a negligible impact on businesses.
“Although New York has to-date been more successful than any other state in reducing the rate of disease transmission, COVID-19 has dramatically changed the economic landscape, casting doubt on whether the capacity to absorb minimum wage increases without adverse impact can continue over the near-term,” they wrote in a study.
Officials noted that the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the pace of the distribution of vaccines are likely to have a much greater impact on the state’s labor market than the level of the minimum wage.
“Close examination of the available economic data by region suggests that the labor market recoveries in Long Island, Westchester, and the remainder of the upstate are proceeding apace and are not likely to be substantially harmed by the minimum wage increases scheduled for the end of this year.”
They made note that due to many New York schools transitioning to a hybrid learning model that requires parents or guardians to be home, many are leaving the workforce and the minimum wage increase could aid them in staying afloat during the second wave of the pandemic.
“With many schools employing a hybrid model combining in-class and online learning, many parents are choosing to exit the labor market to facilitate their children’s education. Higher wages may very well be necessary to attract these workers back into the labor market when conditions permit.”
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