The lowest paid New Yorkers are about to get another raise.
Thanks to legislation passed two years ago, the minimum wage is set to increase to as much as $15 an hour for some workers on December 31.
This is the second scheduled minimum wage increase in the five boroughs since the state law was passed.
Businesses with more than 10 workers will be required to pay at least $15 an hour, an increase from $13.
For smaller businesses, the minimum wage will rise to $13.50 an hour, up from $12.
And the minimum wage for fast food workers will jump to $15 an hour, up from $13.50.
Labor unions and liberal activists had pushed for the higher wages to improve living standards for workers on the lowest rung of the economic ladder. They said it also would lead to more spending, which in turn would boost the economy.
Christy Davis, the owner of the Exit9 Gift Emporium in the East Village, says she already pays her employees at least $15 an hour, and is proud to do so.
“We believe in taking care of hard workers and advocate for that,” Davis said. “So far, no it hasn’t impacted the business in any negative way.”
But some small business owners like Eli Amsel says it'll hurt more than help.
“I don’t see myself surviving much longer,” said Amsel.
Amsel has built Lagmitz Paper and Plastic in Brownsville, Brooklyn, into a major distributor of shopping bags on the east coast.
But he says business is off about 20 percent over three years because consumers have been moving away from plastic bags.
At the same time, the minimum wage in New York has jumped from $8.75 an hour.
“You’re trying to help somebody out on the backs of a small business owner who is not making that type of money, not because we're greedy," Amsel said.
Amsel says he employed 15 people four years ago, and is down to half that now, and may even have to cut his payroll even further next year.
“I’m sorry to say I’m going to have to cut hours on some of the employees,” Amsel said. “I might eventually have to let one of them go, that’s the only way to balance the budget.”
And that, he says, cannot be good for the local economy.