Breaking down the Fight for $15 Win in New York State.

Breaking down the Fight for $15 Win in New York State. As many of you have probably seen, Governor Cuomo passed a minimum wage increase for New York State to $15 per hour in April. This is an exciting victory for low-income households who have been struggling to survive on the current minimum wage of $9 per hour in New York State. But reaching $15 per hour will not happen for all workers at the same time. Different parts of the state and different industries have unique timelines for implementation. We’ll look quickly at how the $15 per hour minimum wage will be implemented here in New York State.

The chart shown below[1] list the different rates for different parts of the state and different industries. At the highest level, we can see that as of right now all workers in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester will reach $15 per hour by 2021 (though some earlier). However, there is a segment of workers outside of this area that as of now are on a bath to $12.50 per hour by 2020, but that is when they will reach $15 per hour is unclear.

First, looking at New York City where there are three paths to $15 per hour by sector and size of business. The three categories are fast-food jobs, other large employers (with at least 11 employees and non-fast food businesses) and other small employers (with 10 or fewer employees and non-fast food businesses). By 2018, workers at fast-food jobs and at large employers will reach $15 per hour, fast-food workers’ wages increase at a faster rate than jobs at other large employers. New York City workers employed at small NYC employers will only get to $15 per hour by 2019.


Throughout the state of New York, excluding New York City, fast-food jobs will reach $15 per hour in 2020. In Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties, all sectors other than fast-food will reach $15 per hour one year later in 2021. Again, outside these areas for low-wage workers not in fast-food, there is currently only a timeline to reach $12.50 per hour by 2020. While some critics of increasing the minimum wage have said this phase in is necessary given the lower cost of living and lower economic activity in rural upstate areas, it is greatly concerning that there is no path for these workers.[2]


California also passed the historic wage increase (minimum wage reaching $15 per hour in 2022) and we are certainly proud to be on the front lines of this historic economic justice win. We hope that other states will join the movement to change the minimum wage to $15 per hour and that our neighbors in upstate New York not working in fast-food are able to join too.

[1] Combined information from AND