After significant lobbying and legislative haggling, Governor Andrew Cuomo on March 29, 2013, signed legislation that increases the New York State minimum wage rate starting December 31, 2013. This is New York’s first minimum wage increase since July 24, 2009, when it was increased to match to federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. 

The new legislation provides that the New York minimum wage will increase to:

  • $8.00 on and after December 31, 2013;
  • $8.75 on and after December 31, 2014; and
  • $9.00 on and after December 31, 2015.

The legislation does not provide for an increase in the minimum wage applicable to food service and/or other tipped employees. Food service workers currently must be paid a minimum wage of $5.00 per hour and credit for tips must not exceed $2.25 per hour, provided that the total of tips received plus the wages equals or exceeds $7.25. The legislation, however, authorizes the commencement of Wage Board discussions on increases for tipped employees. 

Once the December 31, 2013, increase takes effect, New York will become one of at least 20 states (along with the District of Columbia) with a minimum wage higher than the federal rate. Other states have legislation pending to increase their respective minimum wage rates. For instance, in New Jersey, voters this fall will decide on a proposal to increase the state minimum wage to $8.25 per hour, with annual cost-of-living increases tied to inflation. President Barack Obama has stated the federal minimum wage ought to be raised to $9.00 per hour and several proposals to raise the federal minimum have been proposed in Congress.