State will move forward with minimum wage increase

Staff Reports Posted 17 December 2020 at 1:52 pm

Wage will go up locally from $11.80 to $12.50 per hour

Locally the wage increase from $11.80 to $12.50 an hour on Dec. 31, the state Department of labor announced on Wednesday.

That will be the new minimum wage in the state, outside of New York City and Long Island and Westchester County. It will go from $13 to $14 on Long Island and Westchester County. New York City’s minimum wage will remain at $15 an hour.

The wage is going up despite opposition from Rob Ortt, the leader of the Republican conference in the State Senate.

“The Department of Labor’s decision to move forward with a minimum wage increase is extremely short-sighted at a time when small and mid-sized businesses face state ordered shutdowns and the looming threat of a statewide lockdown by the Governor,” Ortt said in a statement on Wednesday. “These smaller employers struggle each and every day to keep their doors open, and invested heavily in safety measures to keep their employees and customers safe from Covid-19. The state has  done nothing to help them.”

The Department of Labor said an analysis from the Division of the Budget found the Upstate, Long Island and Westchester labor markets – where the minimum wage is scheduled to rise – are leading New York’s economic recovery from the downturn caused by the global pandemic, the DOL said.

The report found that, just prior to the pandemic, the state had achieved record low unemployment following four years of increases to the minimum wage. In addition, the report showed that minimum wage workers need support today, as they were disproportionally impacted by the pandemic’s economic toll, with those earning the minimum wage representing a large portion of the hardest-hit industries, including retail trade and leisure and hospitality.

Ortt said the wage hike comes at a time of crisis for many small businesses.

“The last thing they need is additional costs at this time, and the last thing they want is to pink slip dedicated employees for Christmas,” Ortt said. “But instead of pausing this increase as the Senate Republican Conference urged until the end of the pandemic, the state will now force these small employers to make difficult choices. The state wrongly based their decision on pre-pandemic economic success.”