New York workers prepare for wage increases

Call them "living wages" or "extreme wage initiatives," but wage increases are coming to America's workers. Industry groups such as the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association have been working to keep these increases at bay, going so far as to sue the city of Los Angeles for being the first to up employee earnings, but soon the interest groups will be fighting a battle on both coasts.

On Thursday, the minimum wage in New York City will be increasing from $8.75 to $9 per hour, while tipped workers will see an increase from $5 ($5.65 for service workers outside of food services) to $7.50. According to The Wall Street Journal, that bump is nothing compared to the planned $15 an hour wage New York governor Andrew Cuomo is pushing for when the next legislative session begins Jan. 13. 

The wage increase continues to have its critics, including Ed Cox, chairman of the state Republican party, who called the plan a "disaster, particularly for upstate New York."

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The Santa Monica Lookout reported that, back in California, the city of Santa Monica is planning on raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour as well, shooting to complete the raise by 2020. The city is considering raising all hotel worker wages to $15.37 by 2017, but would exclude unionized workers. The city council will commence Jan. 12, and hotel owners previously blocked a local wage law in the city in 2002.

While job creation in the industry continues to rapidly increase, there are rumblings that a wage increase will put a stopper on that, though reports have been contradictory. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the downtown Los Angeles hospitality sector has shrunk by almost 5 percent since mid-2014, compared to the rest of the state's 2.5-percent job growth. At the same time, a report from two Cornell School of Hotel Administration faculty members found a "nominal" wage hike would have no negative impact on the service industry.

With the Inquisitr reporting that at least 14 states will increase their minimum wages this year, evidence continues to mount that this is the direction the industry is heading. More data will arise after implementation, but for now hotels should prepare for the prospect of a bigger payday for workers. 

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