New York Raises Minimum Wage to $15 for All New Yorkers

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced recently that he would unilaterally establish a $15 minimum wage for all state workers, making New York the first state to set such a high wage for its public employees.

The increase will place the pay of New York’s state employees far ahead of the current minimum wage in other states, and positions Cuomo at the vanguard of a national movement to address stagnant pay for millions of American workers.

Using executive authority, the Governor would gradually increase the hourly rate: state workers in New York City would earn $15 an hour by the end of 2018; state workers outside of the City would also see wages rise, though more slowly, with rates climbing to $15 by the end of 2021. All told, some 10,000 workers — about 6.5 percent of the state’s permanent and seasonal work force — would see an increase in pay, according to the Governor’s office, with the vast majority of those living upstate or outside the City.

Cuomo framed his decision as part of a larger fight against poverty and economic inequality, criticizing fast-food companies like McDonald’s for being culpable in “a scam on the taxpayers of this country.” He also summoned the legacy of another New York governor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and argued that “if you work full time, you should have a decent lifestyle for you and your family.”

The state’s current minimum wage of $8.75 was failing that promise, Cuomo said. “You can’t pay for housing and food and clothing on $18,000 a year, period,” he said.