Measuring the Cost of a Higher Minimum Wage for New York’s Fast Food Restaurants

Abstract

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in a New York Times op-ed this spring his intention to empanel a state wage board to consider a minimum wage increase specific to the fast food industry. All three members of the governor’s wage board—who represent the public, labor, and the business community—are on-record supporting a minimum wage increase, leading some critics to conclude that the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

Still, the board will hear public testimony before making its recommendations. Unfortunately, recent history suggest that public hearings aren’t always a hospitable venue for business owners to express their opinions: In Los Angeles county and Seattle, businesses who opposed a higher minimum wage found themselves heckled or even the subject of a boycott.

To better voice the concerns of fast food restaurants in the state, the Employment Policies Institute surveyed hundreds of fast food businesses in New York that would be affected by a $15 minimum wage. The results, presented below, suggest that the wage board should proceed with caution in its recommendations.