Minimum wage increases could benefit workers and businesses in the Southern Tier, according to officials

Local News

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Starting Thursday, the Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers will be raised to $15 per hour throughout the State of New York. In the Southern Tier, some businesses moved to the new minimum wage early to attract workers back to their businesses.

While the Fast-Food Minimum Wage is already $15 per hour in New York City, it’s been $14.50 throughout the rest of the state since the end of December. The gradual increases were set by the Department of Labor under Governor Cuomo and began in 2015.

“I think that this absolutely gives them [workers] a little shot in the arm for those that are in the fast-food business. They may or may not be full-time, so this gives a lot of the part-timers a little extra boost and that’s actually good for our economy,” Judy McKinney Cherry, executive director of Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development, said.

Economists hope the increased wages will create cash flow, which will circulate in the local economy. In turn, this will boost the economy. Cherry also says businesses that have already advanced wages are enticing more people to return to work, making it more competitive.

“They have had no problem bringing back workers or getting, you know, attracting the new workforce for this summer,” Cherry continued.

While some say unemployment benefits are to blame for a worker shortage in the foodservice industry, it is actually a structural-demographic problem. As workers from the Baby Boomer generation leave the workforce, there is a gap behind them and before the new generation of employees.

“This is actually a demographic structural shift issue that is not just happening in New York; it’s happening across all of North America… I think it’s important that those understand that it’s not just about the wages, it’s not just about the worker’s comp and the pandemic. This was something that demographers saw coming,” Cherry concluded.

The Fast-Food Minimum Wage change affects establishments with 30 or more locations, including many that are individually owned franchises.

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