New York Minimum Wage Rates and Information

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As of December 31, 2018, the minimum wage in New York State has been set at $11.10 per hour, which is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The previous New York State minimum wage was $10.40 per hour.

New York State Minimum Wage Increases

On December 31, 2019, the New York State minimum wage will rise to $11.80 per hour. The following year, on December 31, 2020, it will increase again to $12.50 per hour. Further, it is set to increase steadily each year until the state minimum wage reaches $15.00 per hour.

There are also different minimum wage rates for the fast food industry, Long Island and Westchester County, and large and small employers in New York City.

New York City Minimum Wage

In New York City, the minimum wage for businesses (11 employees or more) will be increased to $15.00 by December 31, 2018, from the previous level of $13.00 per hour. For smaller businesses (10 or fewer employees), the minimum wage will increase to $13.50 per hour from $12.00 per hour on the same date. On December 31, 2019, the minimum wage for smaller businesses in NYC will increase again to $15.00 per hour.

Long Island and Westchester Minimum Wage

Long Island and Westchester also have a higher minimum wage than the rest of the state, $12.00 per hour as of December 31, 2018, up from $11.00 per hour. The minimum wage in these regions will increase by $1.00 per year until it reaches $15.00 per hour in 2021.

Minimum Wage by Job Category

The minimum wage and future increases are different for each category of employee. For example, there are different minimums for farm workers, nail salon employees, and people who work in the hospitality industry.

New York State Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers

The following minimum wage rates for fast food workers who work for a chain with 30 or more establishments was approved by a state wage panel.

Fast Food Minimum Wage Increases for New York State, Excluding New York City:

  • $12.75 as of December 31, 2018 (current)
  • $13.75 on December 31, 2019
  • $14.50 on December 31, 2020
  • $15.00 on July 1, 2021

Fast Food Minimum Wage for New York City:

  • $15.00 as of December 31, 2018 (current)

Increasing the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour for all workers across New York State was a key goal in Governor Andrew Cuomo's “Build to Lead” initiative. While many New York state workers are not currently scheduled to reach that $15.00 per hour goal, those in New York City, Long Islandand Westchester will earn a $15.00 per hour minimum wage by the end of 2021.

New York Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers

Workers who receive tips are paid under a different minimum wage structure in New York. The cash wage, or base service rate, varies based on the size of the employing business and its location. The minimum wage rate for tipped workers in NYC changed in 2018, as well.

If tips aren't sufficient to reach minimum wage, the employer is required to pay the minimum wage for tipped employees, which is not currently scheduled to increase, but will be addressed in the future.

Minimum Wage for App-Based Drivers

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) voted on December 4, 2018, to set the nation’s first minimum pay rate for app-based drivers. The rate is set at $17.22 per hour after expenses ($26.51 per hour gross pay) and went into effect on December 31, 2018.

The increase raised pay by at least $9,600 per year for 90 percent of the drivers for high volume app-based for-hire vehicle services in the city (Uber, Lyft, Via, and Juno) according to the TLC.

History of New York's Minimum Wage

  • A general minimum wage was established on October 1, 1960, prior to which minimum wage rates depended on the industry. The first New York State minimum wage was $1.00 per hour.
  • Since it was established in October 1960, New York State minimum wage has increased in spurts, with the first rapid increase occurring over a period of several years in the mid-to-late 1970s.
  • This was over two decades later than when the national minimum wage was established in 1938.

More or Less Than Federal Minimum Wage

New York is one of many states whose minimum wage tends to be higher than the federal minimum wage, for both tipped and untipped workers. A few states match federal minimum wage and even fewer mandate a minimum wage which is less than the federal minimum wage.

When a state’s minimum wage law attempts to set a pay rate that is less than the federal minimum wage law, the federal minimum wage law supersedes the state minimum wage law.

In contrast, when a state – like New York – has a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum wage, the state minimum wage supersedes the federal requirement. In short, minimum wage laws are always set to favor the employee by establishing the federal or state minimum wage at whichever is the higher wage.

The information contained in this article is not legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law.