Dept. of Labor: Minimum wage phase-in continues; rises to $15 for LI, Westchester County by end of 2021

The Department of Labor announced that the minimum wage phase-in will continue for Long Island and Westchester County starting Dec. 31. 
The wage phase-in requires minimum wage rates to increase each year in all counties until they reach $15 per hour.
The Division of Budget said in a report that it found evidence of pressure for wage raises during the pandemic-driven labor shortage.
The Labor Department lists the key finds from the report as follows:
  • The low-wage sector was the most severely impacted by the pandemic: 1 million, or 57.2 percent of the private sector losses, were in the three industries where minimum wage workers are most concentrated – retail trade, health care and social assistance, leisure and hospitality. These sectors represented only 42.5 percent of private employment at the February 2020 pre-Covid peak. In just two months, the low-wage sector experienced a combined loss of 31.0 percent of its jobs.
  • Results from the Survey of Consumer Expectations, compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, suggest that the pandemic has caused some workers to reassess the value of their labor. The survey asks workers the lowest wage they would accept in their chosen line of work, called a reservation wage. Survey results indicate the nationwide reservation wage attained a historical peak of $71,400 in March 2021, a 15.7% increase from March 2020 and while it dipped in July 2021, it remained elevated over a two-year period, indicating particularly strong growth in reservation wages among less educated and young workers.
  • The Conference Board Help Wanted Online Index is showing statewide job postings at record highs. Total job postings for July 2021, the most recent month available, exceeded the March 2020 pre-pandemic peak by 72.4 percent. The shortage of low-skill/low-wage labor appears to be even more severe. July postings specifying a high school education or vocational training exceed their March 2020 pre-pandemic peak by 95.4 percent. Moreover, postings specifying either a high school education or vocational training represent 29.9 percent of total postings for July 2021, just below its May 2021 historic high of 31.6 percent.
Large and small employers in New York City reached minimum wages of $15 in 2018 and 2019 through the phase-in.
The remainder of the state will increase to $13.20 at the end of the year and will continue to increase every year until it reaches $15.
For the full schedule of the minimum wage rate, click here.
The Department of Labor has answers to frequently asked questions here.