$15 an Hour Minimum Wage to Generate $1.3 Billion for City’s Fast-Food Workers

Photo via Flickr / Steve Rhodes / Creative Commons
Photo via Flickr / Steve Rhodes / Creative Commons

A prospective raise in New York City’s minimum wage from $8.75 to $15 an hour would increase the annual earnings of food service workers by $1.3 billion, while generating a total $10.2 billion economic impact affecting minimum wage workers citywide, according to a new report authored by the office of the City Comptroller.  

The report contends, among other things, that wage hikes similar to those passed in cities like Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco would alleviate a host of urban issues that plague many low-income families, such as the general cost of living in a city with sky-high rents.

“The cost of living in New York City is twice as high as anywhere in the country, and roughly twice as high as in Buffalo. When adjusted for the cost of living, the city’s minimum wage is the lowest of any major city in the nation,” the report states.

The lion’s share of the report’s findings gloss over the plight shared by many of NYC’s food service workers, who have recently staged demonstrations across city landmarks as part of a national movement meant to draw attention to their meager wages. The city’s fast-food working population has grown at considerable rates over the last decade–a total of 40,000 new workers have started jobs in limited-service restaurants like McDonald’s between 2000 and 2014. The majority of these low-income workers are either black or hispanic and work across the 7,600 fast food restaurants scattered throughout the five boroughs. The majority of these restaurants are in Queens and Brooklyn, the report states.

To that effect, the report highlights the borough-to-borough breakdown of a minimum wage hike, illustrating the collective impact a near fifty-percent wage increase would have on the individual worker.

Screenshot of Comptroller's report. Photo: comptroller.nyc.gov
Screenshot of Comptroller’s report. Photo: comptroller.nyc.gov

The prospective wage hikes, which would fully take effect by 2019, would benefit the city and federal government on a variety of levels, as families earning more than $10,000 annually generally pay an average of $900 to social security and other welfare programs. The report also finds that fast-food workers would rely less on these social assistance programs, because their wages would generally be more sustainable.

“The public expense of supporting low-wage earners would decrease as these households would receive $200 to $500 less in in public assistance receipts like social security and food stamps,” the report states.




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