CAPITAL REGION — The new phase in raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour will go into effect on Dec. 31 as scheduled despite the pandemic’s economic impact, the state Department of Labor announced.
A report by the state Division of Budget found that the upstate, Westchester County and Long Island labor markets — where the minimum is scheduled to rise — are leading the state in recovering jobs that were lost because of the pandemic.
The report found that just prior to the pandemic’s arrival in March, the state has achieved record unemployment — just 3.7 percent — even as earlier increases in the minimum wage were phased in.
“The report showed that minimum wage workers need support today, as they are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic’s economic toll, with those earning the minimum wage representing a large portion of the hardest-hit industries, including retail trade and leisure and hospitality,” the DOL announcement said.
In the new phase, the minimum will rise to $12.50 per hour upstate, including the Capital Region. It will rise to $14 per hour on Long Island and in Westchester County. It is already $15 in New York City.
The phase in has taken the minimum wage in the Capital Region from $9.70 per hour in 2017 to the current $11.80, which went into effect last Dec. 31. After this year, the upstate increase for 2021 hasn’t been determined — it will be jointly determined by the state Division of Budget and Department of Labor.
“Even as we continue to battle the pandemic, we are working to build back in an equitable and just way,” said Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “Before this crisis, we achieved record unemployment rates while increasing the minimum wage — improving the lives of thousands of New Yorkers — and we will rebuild our economy while continuing to lead the nation in the fight for economic justice.”
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