Good Day New York

Governor Cuomo announces a $15 minimum wage for New York, plus paid family leave

Yesterday was a good day for New York. On the heels of the announcement that California will raise its minimum wage to $15 by 2023, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York State will also raise its minimum wage to $15. And that's not all. Cuomo's 2016-2017 budget also includes a program for 12 weeks of paid family leave, which is the only one of its kind in the country.

Cuomo's plan is a tiered one, which means the wage increases will roll out at different paces throughout the state. Workers in New York City who are employed by businesses with 11 or more employees will see their wages increase to $11 an hour by 2016, with a $2 increase each year moving forward until they reach $15 per hour in 2018. Workers at businesses with 10 or fewer employees will earn $10.50 by the end of 2016, and $1.50 more until they reach $15 per hour by the end of 2019.

In Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties, wages will increase to $10 per hour at the end of 2016 and will increase incrementally until reaching $15 by the end of 2021. Throughout the rest of the state, workers will earn $9.70 by the end of 2016, with wages increasing by 70 cents until they reach $12 by the end of 2020. After that, the director of the Division of Budget and the Department of Labor will determine when wages will reach $15 per hour.

Paid family leave will commence in 2018 for workers who have been at their companies for longer than six months.

The budget estimates 2.3 million people will benefit from the effects of these increases.

It's major news for the entire state, particularly for restaurant workers. As Eater points out in a comprehensive review of the wage increases and what they could mean for hospitality industry employees, fast-food workers started fighting for a $15 wage increase in 2012.

For tipped waiters, the jury is still out. It's not certain that this wage increase will apply to front of house, Eater says. Though Cuomo did call for a wage increase for all workers in 2015, the new budget doesn't address the tipped minimum wage. As more restaurants move away from tipping altogether, it's a hot-button issue.

For cooks, whose wages have dropped significantly in recent years—falling the most out of any other profession between 2009 and 2014—Cuomo's new budget is a huge victory.