Washington, D.C. — Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, released the following statement today after the New York State Fast Food Wage Board recommended raising wages for fast food workers to $15 per hour in New York City by 2018 and in the rest of the state by 2021. In June, Karla Walter, Associate Director of the American Worker Project at CAP Action, testified before the wage board, endorsing a $15 per hour wage.
A minimum wage of $15 an hour will mean a living wage for thousands of New York’s fast food workers, who work in an industry that is one of the fastest growing in the state. Between industry scheduling practices and average wages that sit at about $9 an hour, many fast food employees struggle to make ends meet—even as the largest publicly traded fast food chains operating in the state raked in billions in profits last year.
Low wages are not just harmful to the fast food workers and their families. They are bad for the economy and bad for taxpayers, who are left to shoulder billions of dollars in public assistance for fast food workers who must rely on these programs. A $15 per hour wage translates into $31,000 annual earnings for a worker able to access full-time employment in New York—a modest salary that will help families put food on the table and keep the lights and heat running at home. Research has shown that raising the minimum wage does not cause job loss, and a recent analysis of a $15 per hour proposal showed that the fast food industry could fully absorb the added costs of this wage over four years.
Today’s action by the New York State Fast Food Wage Board is a win for the workers and activists who worked tirelessly, often putting their own jobs in jeopardy, to make this vote a reality.
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