NY’s minimum wage: How it is affecting workers and businesses

James Valentine works at Dunkin Donuts in Ithaca and has lived with the ups and downs of New York's increasing minimum wage.

On one hand, he gets bigger paychecks when he works enough hours.

On the other hand, hours can be sporadic as New York annually increases its minimum wage toward $15 an hour in the New York City area and $12.50 upstate.

"When I get plenty of hours, it's good. When I don’t, I live,” Valentine said.

James is one of the 2 million New Yorkers earning the minimum wage who got a raise at the end of last year. But as the salaries go up, there are concerns across New York about the impact the higher wages are having on businesses.

Some restaurants, for example, said they have cut staff or eliminated positions, such as busboys. Others are moving more toward automation and hiring fewer workers, said Kevin Dugan, the government affairs director for the state Restaurant Association.

Dugan pointed to the recent closure of all Papa John's franchises in Rochester as an example.

“They cited increased economic pressure from the state of New York as one of the reasons why," Dugan said.

“Unfortunately, we're going to see that continuing to happen, where if not closing all together, then going to those tough decisions that may cost people jobs. That’s unfortunately the reality of the situation in New York.”

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