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Report: What do young voters care most about this election cycle in NY?

  • / Updated:
  • Edwin Viera 

A new report finds New York’s rising cost of living and having living-wage jobs are priority issues for young voters.

Research shows a single person has to make almost $27 per hour to afford to live in New York State. On average, tipped-wage workers make almost $18 an hour with tips.

One way to help young voters is eliminating the $10 subminimum wage.

Saru Jayaraman, co-founder and president of One Fair Wage, said this could slow down so-called “tip-flation.”

“As long as the restaurant industry gets this exemption that they don’t have to pay the minimum wage,” said Jayaraman, “every other industry that’s facing staffing crises, rather than doing what they should be doing, they are also attempting to introduce tipping as a way to replace what they really need to do – which is to raise wages.”

A bill ending the subminimum wage for restaurant workers has been introduced in New York’s Legislature, but faces opposition from groups such as the National Restaurant Organization.

Restaurants argue forcing them to raise wages would erode their already narrow profit margins, and force them to lay off staff or cut hours.

But restaurants in other states are seeing dividends from paying workers a full minimum wage – plus tips.

Several states have ballot measures this year for voters to decide whether to end the subminimum wage. Seven states, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., have abolished the subminimum wage.

By providing a living wage, the businesses can attract people to work in an industry struggling with its post-pandemic recovery.

Jayaraman said incidents of sexual harassment decline for restaurants paying workers a full wage.

“When you’re not so dependent on tips to make up your base wage, you can reject harassment from customers, because you can count on a wage from your boss like every other worker in every other industry,” said Jayaraman.

Studies show female tipped workers in states using the federal sub-minimum wage experienced sexual harassment twice as often, and were told by management to wear “sexier clothes” three times as often than workers in states without a tipped minimum wage.