A new study conducted by the U.S. Labor Department shows that 300,000 workers in New York are paid less than the minimum wage. This represents between 3.5 and 6.5 percent of the total workforce in the state.
Workers lost 38 percent of their income each week due to these wage violations; taken together, this amounts to $20 million to $29 million.
Restaurant workers were the most common victims of this practice, particularly at fast food restaurants. Employees of these companies have been campaigning for a higher wage for months.
“We already know workers (in the fast food industry) earn low wages and struggle to earn a basic family budget,” David Weil, administrator of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division, told the New York Times.
The study was conducted in 2011, when New York’s minimum wage was $7.25–it has since increased to $8.00. The low-wage workers in the study were people who made less than 1.5 times the minimum wage ($11 at the time of the study).
This monetary maneuvering hurt taxpayers too–school breakfast and lunch programs in New York had to spend an additional $7.8 million in 2011, and food stamp spending rose $33.6 million. About 8,000 New York families live below the poverty line because of wage violations, and so are forced to use these services.
Supporters of a higher, violation-free minimum wage marched throughout the country this morning in protest- the New York rally began at a McDonald’s in Brooklyn at 6:30 a.m. and ended at City Hall around 11.