Comparing New York and California’s Wage Increases

What are the differences between New York and California’s recent legislative moves that increase the minimum wage in those states?
New York’s takes a lot more bullet points to explain.


The California Fair Wage Act of 2016

Calls for an increase in minimum wage of $1 per hour every January 1 until it reaches $15 per hour in 2021. It will be indexed to inflation after hitting $15. Does not have a tip credit so minimum wage will impact tipped workers as well.

Exceptions and potential delays

  • The governor may impose a delay during an economic recession
  • Businesses with 25 or fewer employees have an extra year to comply


New York Plan

Treats parts of New York state differently, with upstate not even reaching a $15 minimum wage until sometime after 2020. Includes a tip credit, which means that tipped workers do not have to be paid this minimum wage. And unlike California, New York is not indexed to inflation after reaching the $15 minimum.

In New York City

  • Employers with 11 or more workers: $11.00 per hour on and after December 31, 2016; $2 increase per year ($15 by December 31, 2018)
  • Employers with less than 11 workers: $10.50 end of 2016; $1.50 increase per year after ($15 by December 31, 2019)

In Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties

  • Increase to $10 at the end of 2016 and then increase by $1 at the end of each year of the next five years, reaching $15 on December 31, 2021

The rest of the state

  • Increase to $9.70 at the end of 2016; increase by $0.70 at the end of each of the next four years, reaching $12.50 on December 31, 2020
  • After 2020, the rate will increase to $15 on an indexed schedule to be set by the Director of the Division of Budget in consultation with the Department of Labor

Potential delays

  • Will be formally reviewed and studied in 2019
  • The state can suspend scheduled increases “if economic conditions warrant it”