New York’s Fast Food Flop

When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in May his intention to impanel a wage board to “examine the minimum wage in the fast food industry,” fair-minded observers understood the implications: The minimum wage was going up, and it was most likely rising to the $15-an-hour level demanded by the SEIU.

Three months later, the Governor’s hand-picked board dutifully delivered a set of recommendations that matched these expectations, raising the hourly wage to $15 over three years in New York City, and over six years in the rest of the state.

A survey of nearly 1,000 New York fast food businesses, released by EPI earlier this year, documented the harm that this extreme mandate will cause to the state’s small businesses and the people they employ. Now, a new billboard in Times Square highlights another unintended consequence of the law: Devaluing the hard work of more-experienced employees who have worked their way up the career ladder.

This isn’t a hypothetical concern. In a survey this summer of 301 employees who earn $12-$15 an hour, 46 percent opposed a law that would require entry-level employees to be paid the same wage that they earn. It’s understandable: A majority of these employees had two or more years of job experience and at least some college education, suggesting they wouldn’t be thrilled at a new law that allows people with neither of these characteristics to earn their same wage.

The billboard, which succinctly makes this point, can be seen for the next month on Broadway in New York City’s Times Square, just south of West 46th St.