NEW YORK –
The lowest paid workers in the New York State want something to look forward to in the New Year: a higher minimum wage, with the biggest increase coming to New York City employees who will do at least $ 15 per hour.
For workers struggling in this expensive city, it is an occasion for celebration, an extra bit of money to help with the daily struggle to make ends meet, even as rent and other costs continue to rise. For some business owners, it is a burden when they try to figure out how to deal with higher payroll costs.
In New York City, the $ 15 hour rate starts on the last day of 2018 and applies to fast food workers and employees of 11 or more people; These companies currently have to pay a minimum wage of $ 1[ads1]3.
That includes people like Jose Amador, 70, a full-time employee at a Brooklyn store.
As it is now, he has to stretch hard to support his family – he has four children aged 3 to 15 – at $ 2,500 he brings home every month. Almost half are eaten with rent. The rest hardly covers tools, food and transportation.
In a city where a 30-day subway runs alone costs $ 121, even an additional $ 2 per hour "can make a difference," he said in Spanish, spoken through a translator.
"I want more breathing space," he said, and maybe even save money for emergencies.
If his children ask for something, the answer may not be "I can't afford it," he said.
But for business owner Sam Lam, it means more concern. This is the sixth time New York's minimum wage has risen since 2013 when it was $ 7.25.
The owner of two Queens laundry machines, he has balanced his budget by cutting back on working overtime, slashing small benefits such as company lunches and holiday bonuses, and raising prices. Since he has fewer than 11 workers in each independent business, his minimum wage workers see wages going from $ 12 to $ 13.50 in 2019 before hitting the $ 15 mark in 2020.
"I'm in a very stressful situation, "said Lam 54, who also works as a hairdresser.
Workers in New York's Long Island suburbs will see their minimum wage going from $ 11 to $ 12 on New Year's Eve before they jump to $ 15 in 2021. The rest of the state will see the minimum wage going up 70 cents, to $ 11.10, with further increases phased in over several years.
If the experience from Seattle, where some companies had to pay $ 15 per hour from 2017 and San Francisco, where it went to $ 15 for all workers on July 1, is something to pass by, there will also be no Magical cold that puts low-wage workers in a safe position, or an effort in business, said Jacob Vigdor, a professor at the University of Washington who has investigated the effect of wage increases.
"The general sense is that the fear of what a higher minimum wage could have done for the business was exaggerated," he said. "I also think it's fair to say that hope for what a minimum wage might have done for workers was also exaggerated."
Workers who were already in minimum wage jobs saw the salary, he said. But the number of new workers entering the low-wage market had declined, which means that businesses adapted by doing things like having fewer workers on a shift or adjusting hours of operation.
Researchers who studied a group of low-wage workers said they did not report the feeling more financially safe, Vigdor says.
"But much more they earned, their expenses went up as quickly, if not faster," he said.
Government authorities estimate that over 900,000 people would earn $ 15 an hour wages when fully implemented in New York City.
Samantha Marturana, co-owner of Buttermilk Bakeshop in Brooklyn, said that when the lowest paid by her workers gets a wage growth of $ 15, it will have a ripple effect. Employees who are already paid more now due to seniority or special skills expect an increase.
She and her co-owner could avoid the pay road for a year by laying off a worker, but they also didn't want to, she said. Instead, the business can try to expand product offerings or market more to drive sales.
Flavia Cabral, 56, is also planning. As a part-time fast-food worker, she looks forward to buying toys for her grandchild, maybe having a little extra to buy the things that were out of reach before, like a pair of good quality shoes, or being able to give some money to her daughter for college expenses.
"Now I have a little release from thinking, pressed," said the Bronx resident. "I have hope."
* Follow us on YouTube
* More local news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app to break news alerts
(Copyright © 2018 by The Associated Press.) All rights reserved.)