New York’s minimum-wage workers celebrated a pay bump as the clock ticked over to 2024


New York’s minimum-wage workers had more than just the new year to celebrate Monday, with a pay bump kicking in as the clock ticked over to 2024.

In the first of a series of annual increases slated for the Empire State, the minimum wage increased to $16 in New York City and some of its suburbs, up from $15. In the rest of the state, the new minimum wage is $15, up from $14.20.

The state’s minimum wage is expected to increase every year until it reaches $17 in New York City and its suburbs, and $16 in the rest of the state by 2026. Future hikes will be tied to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, a measurement of inflation.

New York is one of 22 states getting minimum wage rises in the new year, according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute.

In California, the minimum wage increased to $16, up from $15.50, while in Connecticut it increased to $15.69 from the previous rate of $15.

This most recent pay bump in New York is part of an agreement made last year between Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state Legislature. The deal came over the objections of some employers, as well as some liberal Democrats who said it didn’t go high enough.

The federal minimum wage in the United States has stayed at $7.25 per hour since 2009, but states and some localities are free to set higher amounts. Thirty states, including New Mexico and Washington, have done so.

The ferocious inflation that slammed Americans during the pandemic was partially offset by the strongest pay gains in years. Even as people paid more for everything from groceries to rent, real weekly earnings for the typical U.S. worker rose 1.7% between 2019 and 2023, government labor data shows.

Driven by a resilient labor market, some jobs saw particularly strong wage increases over the last year, according to a recent survey from compensation data firm Payscale. Here are the 10 jobs with the hottest wage growth in 2023 compared with the prior year, along with median pay. The analysis is based on responses from more than 3,500 workers across 15 job titles.

Assistant manager, customer service

Customer service representative gesturing on video call through laptop in office

Assistant managers in customer service roles enjoyed the biggest median wage boosts last year, according to Payscale. The driver: Persistent labor shortages, coupled with the usual high rate of turnover in these notoriously stressful positions, forced employers to up wages to retain workers. 

2023 wage growth: 24%

Median pay: $44,200


Smiling barber in discussion with client while cutting hair in barber shop

Many hairstylists were laid off during the pandemic. But demand for salon services surged after the disease started to recede, boosting demand for workers.

2023 wage growth: 22%

Median pay: $34,300

Master plumber

Plumbers working on pipes in abandoned basement

So-called master plumbers — who are often more experienced and may have more expertise than a typical journeyman plumber — enjoyed fast wage growth in 2023 as many Americans shelved their pandemic-era DIY projects, Payscale said. Meanwhile, spending on home improvement and maintenance projects has been on the rise in recent years, the firm's analysis shows. 

2023 wage growth: 21%

Median pay: $82,700

Automotive body repairer

Repairing Car Body

Car technicians got a big pay bump this year as many workers retired or left the field in search of better money, according to the report. Demand for workers in the field is also high as many Americans hold on to older cars, which require special care, amid the soaring cost of new vehicles.

2023 wage growth: 21%

Median pay: $52,100

Job coach

Woman next to male manager in business meeting

Wages for career coaches, a relatively new field, jumped last year as Americans' concerns about changes in the labor market, including the potential impact of AI, drove demand for their services. According to Payscale, job coaches help clients zero in on their strengths and work with them to identify the best opportunities. 

2023 wage growth: 21

Median pay: $46,600

Audio/visual technician

T-shirt marked staff

Audio/visual technicians raked in more money in 2023 as skilled workers remained in short supply following mass layoffs during the pandemic and a continuing recovery in the events industry, according to Payscale. Another factor is the growing popularity of podcasting and video blogging, which has driven demand for AV technicians.

2023 wage growth: 20%

Median pay: $57,100


Gamer and animator designer with moment of thinking-stock photo

Animators saw their wages shoot up last year as workers with their talents remain in short supply, Payscale said. The main reason a good animator is hard to find is that training and development opportunities in the field are limited, while animators often get promoted quickly, leaving many entry-level roles vacant.

2023 wage growth: 19%

Median pay: $71,400

Fitness coach

Woman on extension bench in industrial gym

The scourge of COVID-19 encouraged many Americans to take their health more seriously, while some people simply want to shed those pandemic-era pounds. Both factors helped increase demand for fitness professionals and led to hefty pay gains in 2023.

2023 wage growth: 19%

Median pay: $51,100


Roofer are installing asphalt shingles or roof.

Roofers are padding their pockets as employers try to make what is a physically demanding job, and one where benefits have generally been an afterthought, more attractive, according to Payscale. An increase in extreme weather due to climate change also means more work for roofers as homeowners make repairs.

2023 wage growth: 19%

Median pay: $51,700

General manager

Mature man manager in blue shirt with tablet in a warehouse.

A shortage of people with wide-ranging management skills, including hiring, managing budgets, and generally overseeing a business, goes back decades, and that talent gap persists, according to Payscale. Meanwhile, gaining that experience takes time, often requiring years with the same employer to acquire skills specific to that industry and individual business. The result? General managers remained a hot item last year.

2023 wage growth: 18%

Median pay: $70,700

Investors and economists would probably welcome a slow return to the working world this coming week but sadly that’s not likely to happen.

Next week is packed with important U.S. economic data and Federal Reserve speakers that will test the markets’ belief that interest-rate cuts are coming fast and furious in 2024 beginning in March. Traders in derivative markets now expect 150 basis points of benchmark rate cuts next year, according to the CME’s FedWatch tool.

December ISM factory index

Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. Eastern

There has been talk that the factory sector had hit bottom but the data is expected to continue to be disappointing. Economists expect the headline index to stay below the 50.0% break-even level between contraction and expansion for the 14th straight month in January. The consensus forecast of economists polled by the Wall Street Journal expects a slight improvement to 47.3 in December from 46.7 in the prior month. If the data comes in as expected, it fits with the expectations of many economists that the economy will slow markedly in the first few months of the year, keeping alive talk of recession.

FOMC minutes from Dec. 12-13 meeting

Wednesday, 2 p.m. Eastern

The markets reacted strongly after the December Fed meeting, especially Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s remark that cutting interest rates was discussed at the meeting and projections from officials for three quarter-point rate cuts in 2024 instead of two. Subsequent attempts by Fed officials to gently suggest the market might have overreacted to the “Fed pivot” have fallen on deaf ears. “Maybe the minutes will better capture the nuances of the Fed’s game plan,” said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

December jobs report

Friday, 2 p.m. Eastern

Economists expect the labor market to lose some of its luster in December, with job gains of 170,000 down from 199,000 in the prior month. The unemployment rate is expected to tick up to 3.8% from 3.7% in the prior month. Wage gains are expected to cool a bit to 0.3% after a solid 0.4% gain in November.

If the data comes in as expected, it fits with the moderation in GDP growth seen in the final three months of 2023 after the strong 4.9% annual rate in the prior quarter.

A stronger number would be a signal to the market that rate cuts are not coming as fast as the market expects, said Stephen Stanley, chief U.S. economist at Santander.

December ISM service sector index

Friday, 10 a.m. Eastern

Economists expect the headline index to remain comfortably in expansion territory in December, only slipping to 52.5 from 52.7 in the prior month. In contrast to the manufacturing sector, the service sector has only had one month of contraction since the depths of the pandemic in the spring of 2020.

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