Minimum wage rising in 20 states and numerous cities, including NYC

If you’re a minimum wage worker what’s not to love about the thought that on Dec. 31, the minimum hourly wage rate jumps to $15 from $13 for New York City’s fast food workers and employees of businesses with 11 or more people.

“I am going to be a happy worker,” Alicia Colon, a minimum wage worker, told PIX11 News. “I am going to work even harder."

Workers at Shiro’s of Japan in Grand Central Terminal will also be celebrating.

“It’s going to mean a lot to my family,"Jaybee Alinea, minimum wage worker at Shiro’s, told PIX11.

“Everyone has bills to pay,” Colon told PIX11 News. “Food expenses, Housing expenses, everything is going up."

New minimum wage requirements will take effect in 20 states and nearly two dozen cities around the start of the new year, including Westchester and Long Island, affecting millions of workers. The state wage hikes range from an extra nickel per hour in Alaska to a $1-an-hour bump in Maine, Massachusetts and for California employers with more than 25 workers.

A long-time married couple epitomizes the pros and cons of raises the minimum-wage.

“Why limit it to 15, or 20, or 200? That’ll give everyone a meaningful income,” Stephen Moss, a Turtle Bay resident, told PIX11 News. “But I am afraid it will mean a lot of jobs will be cut. Good intentions, bad idea."

His wife strongly disagreed.

“Living in New York City is very expensive,” Barbara Goldstein, a Turtle Bay resident, told PIX11 News. “I know a lot of people who earn minimum wage and it’s got to be a liveable age."

The state and local wage laws come amid a multi-year push by unions and liberal advocacy groups to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour nationwide. Few are there yet, but many states have ratcheted up wages through phased-in laws and adjustments for inflation.

Economic studies on minimum wage increases have shown that some workers do benefit, while others might see their work hours reduced. Businesses may place a higher value on experienced workers, making it more challenging for entry-level employees to find jobs.

The federal minimum wage was last raised in 2009. Since then, 29 states, the District of Columbia and dozens of other cities and counties have set minimum wages above the federal floor. Some have repeatedly raised their rates.

The new state minimum wage laws could affect about 5.3 million workers who are currently earning less than the new standards, according to the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute, based in Washington, D.C. That equates to almost 8 percent of the workforce in those 20 states but doesn't account for additional minimum wage increases in some cities.

Advocates credit the trend toward higher minimum wages to the "Fight for $15," a national movement that has used protests and rallies to push for higher wages for workers in fast food, child care, airlines and other sectors.

"It may not have motivated every lawmaker to agree that we should go to $15," said David Cooper, senior economic analyst at the Economic Policy Institute. "But it's motivated many of them to accept that we need higher minimum wages than we currently have in much of the country."

If you believe you are not being paid the new minimum wage when you should be, you can call 1-888-4-NYSDOL.

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