After an incredibly difficult and stressful 2020, countless New York small business owners were set to welcome 2021 with open arms and looking forward to a prosperous year ahead.
Unfortunately – and counterintuitively – New York State’s Division of Budget and Department of Labor chose to make prosperity and growth more difficult in 2021 for small businesses located in Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties, and across Upstate New York by moving forward with the state’s scheduled minimum wage increase. Upstate will go from $11.80 to $12.50, while Westchester County and Long Island will go from $13 to $14. New York City is already at $15 and will see no change.
The current wage schedule was approved as part of a 2016 budget deal that increased the minimum wage across New York State in a graduated, regional approach. Under the same statute, the Department of Labor and Division of Budget were given the power to pause or suspend the annual wage hikes if the state’s economy slumped. The Labor Department released an economic analysis in December justifying the increase without delay.
Greg Biryla, New York director of the National Federation of Independent Business, stated that the state’s decision to approve the minimum wage hike during COVID’s unprecedented economic disruption “defies logic.”
Speaking with the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Biryla, argued for a delay to give small businesses some breathing room during the pandemic, “New York state needs to do everything in its power to ensure economic conditions improve for small businesses, the jobs they create, and the communities they support – starting with a delay of this scheduled wage hike.”