NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — Fast-food workers in New York are now making $15 per hour after a gradual rate increase for workers across the state went into effect Thursday.
While the fast-food minimum wage is already $15 per hour in New York City, it’s been $14.50 across the rest of the state since the end of December. The gradual increases were set by the Department of Labor under Gov. Andrew Cuomo and began in 2015.
The fast-food wage change impacts establishments with 30 or more locations, including many that are individually owned franchises.
The change is happening as many restaurants struggle to hire employees.
Restaurants, like Chipotle Mexican Grill, have already announced they are raising employee pay.
The company increased its restaurant wages to an average of $15 per hour. It also raised prices on its menu by roughly 3.5% to 4% to help cover the additional wages.
“We really prefer not to” raise prices, CEO Brian Niccol said at a recent conference hosted by Baird. “But it made sense in this scenario to invest in our employees and get these restaurants staffed and make sure that we had the pipeline of people to support our growth.”
In a sign that the economy is continuing to strengthen, the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped last week to a new pandemic low.
The Labor Department said Thursday that jobless claims declined 51,000 from the prior week to 364,000.
Claims have dropped from a record 6.149 million in early April 2020, but are still above the 200,000-250,000 range that is viewed as consistent with a healthy labor market.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.