Essential Wages: New York

An analysis of New York State’s proposed elimination of the tipped minimum wage and its impact on low-wage women workers

Key Findings
  • 58% of tipped workers in restaurant and food service are women.
  • 73% of New York’s tipped food service workers are waiters and bartenders and 62% of these waiters and bartenders are women.
  • The majority of women waiters and bartenders would see their annual income rise more than 40% over their current earnings.
  • The majority of women of color in these two occupations would see annual gains of roughly $9,100 a year.
  • Full-time women waiters and bartenders would see gains of $10,400 per year.
  • 56% of waiters and bartenders currently make less than $15 per hour. A quarter of these women earn less than 1.5 times the federal poverty line.
The Tipped Minimum Wage: New York

New York is one of 42 states where tipped workers in the food service industry receive a subminimum wage and earn much of their income primarily from tips. Even as New York phases in a minimum wage increase to $15 per hour, under current law the tipped minimum wage will reach only $10 per hour.

The tipped minimum wage leaves many workers struggling to make ends meet. For example, women waiters in New York earn only 45 percent of the national median income—their earnings are even lower compared to New York’s relatively high median income. One out of four women waiters and bartenders fall below 150 percent of the federal poverty line.

Advocates, workers, and policy-makers have called for an end to the subminimum wage and a raise for tipped workers to the regular minimum wage. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation creates an opportunity for Governor Kathy Hochul to enact this policy for food service workers by executive order.

The Gender Equity Policy Institute conducted an analysis of the potential impacts of the policy  by gender, race, and ethnicity. The policy change received a rating of 93%, earning it recognition as a model for advancing gender equity.